Days A Week 2000 : BETWEEN STRATEGY AND ATTITUDE
The past is
approached dialectically and theories or systems are constantly challenged.
Ottersbach's paintings 'The beginning of deconstructivism 1 and 2' were based on a photograph taken after an attempt to assassinate Hitler by the leader of the German resistance movement, Claus Graf von Stauffenberg in July 1944. Hitler 'miraculously' survived the explosion of a bomb placed in a room where he had a meeting with civil leaders of the Wehrmacht. Through Ottersbach's mediation this image becomes emblematic of the 'explosion' of the modernist myth. That is: art and science had access to a higher understanding and could lead people to a better way of life which was a legacy of nineteenth century thought, and in the post-fascist era was no longer sustainable. In a series of paintings subtitled'The Physiognomy of the Modern' made in 1998-9, Ottersbach explores another aspect of modernism.
Each work is pre-fixed by a country: Germany, Italy, Russia, France, America (significantly England is absent) and represents a distinctive architectural monument. Here Ottersbach is playing on the idea that modernism billed itself as an international project but in fact had important national dimensions; artists, writers and architects vied with each other to enhance their nation's achievements. This is a phenomenon Ottersbach has also noted in relation to the Cold War era when many artists and writers colluded with their respective governments to reinforce the East-West divide. 'The Physiognomy of the Modern' series has further ironic undertones in the fact that the national monuments are actually Ottersbach's re-workings of fragments of architectural drawings and so are imaginary, not real, icons.
Ottersbach first started working with found images in 1989. Keen both to exploit a new freedom of information and to awaken a past that had 'slept' under the old regime, Ottersbach searched archives both in Western and Eastern Europe.
He has worked freely with these images, sometimes employing traditional methods of montage, decoupage or collage, more recently replacing scissors and paste with computer technology to create a "digital sketchbook or imagepool." Ottersbach is not wedded to the integrity of found material and may very well generate his own 'archival' images. His visual referencing is an Alice-in-Wonderland world in which truth and fiction are blurred: "I am not looking for truth. I do not intend to give any answers. The quality of art is not to give the right answer but to ask the right questions."
It is also far
away from photography and other mechanical or digital image-making
processes. Between the photographer and his or her 'subject of desire'
you will always find a' gadget' such as the camera and with it various
technical limitations. As a painter I have a direct and inductive
relation with my 'subject of desire'." This intimate relation
with the canvas is conveyed to the viewer in the subtlety and delicacy
of the paintings themselves. Although primarily a painter of ideas,
Ottersbach's technique seduces us into a deeper sensory engagement
with his art.