Artwork of the month July

Rütjer Rühle, Mühle [Mill], 1997–2001

Rütjer Rühle

*1939 in Leipzig

Mühle [Mill], 1997–2001

Oil and mixed media on canvas, paper, wood, book pages, steel, fabric
350x388x388cm (each canvas 350x308cm)

Purchased with funds from the Ars Rhenia Stiftung, Vaduz, and the Gerda Techow gemeinnützige Stiftung, Vaduz

Hovering above a canvas spread out on the floor, the backs of four stretcher frames combine to form an installation. The scraps of paper, text fragments, formulae and notes pasted onto the outer walls give an indication of the thematic background to this installation.

On entering the Mill through one of the corner openings, visitors find what Rühle himself describes as a huge resonator space: a space of painting. In a play on words, the Mill invokes the affinity between milling (German: "mahlen") and painting (German: "malen") – an affinity that goes far beyond their homophonic similarity. Milling is used here as a metaphor for the creative process itself. Rühle, referring to Rembrandt's biography, sums it up in the following image: "The son of the miller grinds lumps of pigment into coloured dust, chooses a binding agent and paints: he brings light into the darkness."

In the course of the twentieth century, there have been repeated declarations of the end of painting. Yet Rühle embraces it by exploring its material and dimensional limits. His thickly applied paints are mixed with sand, fabric or wood to create paintings that look like primordial landscapes scarred with craters in which the creative process itself – the gesture of the hand, the imprint of archetypal stamps – is fully legible. By conjoining large-format canvases to create simple architectures, the abstract painting itself ultimately constructs space.

As an enclosed space in which everything is in the process of transformation, the Mill becomes a metaphor of earth and cosmos. Rühle's exploration of cyclical systems echoes the poetry of Paul Celan, whose cyclical worldview points to the decline and demise of the world as a prerequisite for the emergence of a new one. Rühle has transposed some of Celan's works into his own "Books of painted poetry".

<b>Rütjer Rühle, Mühle [Mill], 1997–2001
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.