VERTIGO

The colorful volumes Jan Scharrelmann creates mightbe cosmic in origin:
that much is suggested by the surging color gradients now set against black backdrops,
now gleaming garishly.
Titles such as Eleusys, Thanatos, and Hypnos (all 2007) as well as Spheric and Cosmic (both 2008) open up an entire fabric of references to the history
of creation and to mythology.
The works engage both their own transience and phenomena of astrophysics,
nimbly drawing on sources including Science Fiction as well as contemporary
music and everyday culture.
The volumes with their alchemically iridescent colors assume shapes
ranging from the monolithic to the polygonal;
some are hollow, while others seem to consist of condensed matter.
Areas of color bleeding out can be read as changing states of aggregation—
from foggy fumes across mineral grains to dull compounds
and others that have a metallic luster.
Despite the monumental dimensions, it is thus their color that defines the atmosphere
around them: a pure pigment suspended in epoxy resin.
When the support medium, in the form of elastic glass fiber mats,
occasionally enters into symbiosis with the paint or pigment layer properly
speaking, styrofoam—cut more or less crudely, as a thin slice or massive block—
often serves to the lend the flat layer of color its orbital depth.
For Mad Hole (2010), Scharrelmann chooses fluorescent complementary colors.
The object’s dynamic shape—a freestanding tube on a pentagonal base,
tapered in the fashion of a cone—almost suggests a carousel.
Against the forces of gravity, the Cologne-based sculptor mobilizes the signaling effect of color, which sucks the beholder into its luminescent interior.
A diagonal cross-section and a slight tilt heighten the positively hypnotic effect.
Some surfaces remain without painterly treatment; exhibiting their open styrofoam texture,
the work allows us to experience the sculptural act that produced it.
In this respect, Mad Hole I—its mirror-inverted counterpart Mad Hole II was always part
of the conception—evinces the same duality that pervades almost all groups
of works created by the artist.
The series of pairs of aesthetic as well as formal opposites extends to the Janus-headed doubleness between sculpture and painting, a state that is difficult to categorize;
the classical concept of panel painting retains a certain justification even when
applied to the untreated styrofoam plates in Down to Earth (2008).
All of Scharrelmann’s works, be they two-dimensional wall works, open sculptural
structures, or closed block-like shapes, manifest a primeval state of matter
comparable to what Yves Klein had achieved in his blue pictures.
For this painter, whose rigorous approach put him far ahead of his own time,
colors were the true residents of space.
Exceeding natural or human commensurability, he argued, they were primarily
expressions of a cosmic sensibility [1]. Scharrelmann’s immaterial spaces of color
confidently stand their own ground in the face of this genealogy; in drawing on archaic basic forms, they can appear even more embodied than their historic predecessors.

Heike van den Valentyn, 2010

[1] Yves Klein, “My Position
in the Battle between
Line and Colour,” quoted
in Guy Brett, Force
Fields: Phases of the
Kinetic (London: Hayward
Gallery, 2000), 242.