sebastian wickeroth by Tobias Hoffmann (eng)
sebastian wickeroth by Tobias Hoffmann (deu)
hell feld by Uwe Schramm (deu)
geplante zerstörung by Ralf Witthaus (deu)
In the early 20th century the Russian suprematists and the Dutch De Stijl group started revolutionizing the image notion. Works of art would detach themselves from the standing requirement of reproducing reality and turn into autonomous or, as Theo van Doesburg put it in 1930, concrete works. Geometric form and surface ratios became the fundament of an omnipresent and self-evident artistic language of modernism. Following the European Avant-garde movement of the constructivists in the 20s and 30s, particularly the Zurich Concrete Art representatives headed by Max Bill, Richard Paul Lohse and Camille Graeser intensified and systemized in the 40s and 50s the critical dealing with this canon of forms. During the 50s, however, a controversial position developed in parallel against too stringent an adherence to the given geometric forms. This may certainly be considered as a system-immanent criticism for the traditional method of image creation was not at all questioned by those artists who used to rigorously reject it. There was rather the fear of the image language to be freezing that induced the attempt to find different geometry-based possibilities for enlarging the form canon. Lucio Fontana, for example, intervened in the monochrome rectangular image surface by slitting the canvas, thus breaking the strict geometry and bending the image surface into the third dimension. Also Christian Megert's starting point is a monochrome surface for the mirror, Megert's primary working material, is initially monochrome unless it reflects something. Megert breaks and cuts his mirrors into cullets to disintegrate their originally geometric form. Both artists reinforce their dealing with geometrical forms through disintegration by the processes of slitting and breaking. They tackle their works almost violently and make this action visible.

Geometric form and its concurrent disruption, destruction and deformation is also the starting point for Sebastian Wickeroth's art. This can be the forcefully brute presentation of an implied destructive act such as in his work „strategie der steine 3“. A big rectangular block seems to have crashed to the ground from such height that one of its edges is completely shattered. Here Wickeroth plays with the zest for association of the viewer who may be unable to reject the immediately arising impression of a destructive act. Actually, however, Wickeroth does not cause destruction, he constructs destruction. His point is not the act of destruction itself but the construction of the deconstructed form. He did not smash the block in „strategie der steine 3“ by having it drop but created its deformed form right from the beginning. In this way, he addresses both the stringent geometric form and its deformation.
In „graceful degradation“ a black rectangle simply disintegrates at its bottom. The object appears unable to retain its form. The absolutely precise shape of the upper part, which is still emphasized by an impeccably smooth surface, starts draping, becomes wrinkled and seems to melt. Wickeroth has even the substructure, the framework, randomly jut out. In these works, Wickeroth approximates the American Steven Parrino who used to deform geometric surfaces by first removing the canvas from the frame in order to re-mount it crumpled. Unlike Parrino's, Wickeroth's works allocate a minor role to the reflection about the image notion. He develops his works out of a sculptural perspective. Surfaces excel in extreme smoothness and perfect neutrality that refer to industrial fabrication rather than painting. Moreover, most of his installations are composed of several parts whose interaction causes a confrontation of clear geometric form with vanishing orthogonality. For example, „untitled – fragile“ consists of three equally sized black rectangles arranged horizontally on top of each other. One edge of the uppermost rectangle penetrates the one below, significantly deforming it and transferring the resulting fall of the surface's folds down to the third rectangle.
In his work „immer darüber hinaus“, created in 2009 for the Museum für Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt, Wickeroth separates for the first time strict geometric form clearly from apparently formless chaos. A large geometric cube with high-gloss finished surface stands out of a pile of broken, yellow-lacquered Rigips panels. The cube's order and the Rigips panels' chaos, form and anti-form, oppose, accentuate and, at the same time, challenge each other. With its monochrome colour and its faultless surface – Wickeroth mounts glossy foils over a frame structure – the cube recalls the American Minimal Art whose simple geometric bodies are made of pre-fabricated industrial materials such as acrylic glass, stainless steel or aluminium. The glossy foil in Wickeroths works alludes to these superior materials and feigns a polished plastic body. In „vielleicht morgen“ he employs the foil so skilfully that the play between form and deformation incorporates the entire environment. The outer sides of the flat ground-based work are slightly bent downwards and distort the reflections from the surrounding room. Accordingly, the form is no longer deconstructed only in the work itself but visually affects the static architectural forms in the surroundings. The room becomes an integral component of the work ostensibly designed as an autonomous sculpture. Being viewed, the visual deformation of the room gains such dynamics that the actual form of the installation distinctly retreats into the background. Wickeroth qualifies the effect of the form without destructively reshaping it.

How does one deal with the achievements of the historical avant-gardes in the beginning of the new century? What can the artistic understanding of forms look like today under the aspect of the long tradition of an almost overpowering geometry? With a certain brutalism, Wickeroth attacks the formalistic principles of the art of the 20th century. His works represent an ideological-critical questioning of traditional aesthetic positions as he confronts striving for order and clarity always with its contra position. In the subtitle of a work „form fucks function“ Wickeroth refers unmistakably to the historical avant-gardes. Construction, however, principally comes first. For even if his works may evoke the association that their final design has evolved from a radical gesture of destruction, it is nevertheless he who has constructed anti-form, chaos, destruction. His works unite construction and de-construction of form, the aesthetics of geometry and its invalidation, obvious formal stringency and its ironic negation by anarchy and failure. In this way, Sebastian Wickeroth manages in a refreshing way to merge Punk and Minimal in his works of art.

Tobias Hoffmann