work group imbalances index
work groups

the paintings in martin wörn’s work group imbalances have many common characteristics. the family resemblance is obvious. they are all square, resting in themselves, their linear structure is symmetrical, a small, divided square of two mainly strong colors always stands in the center, they are framed by a foundation of two different shades of gray or black. they are objects with distinct thickness and materiality. the edges and canvas remain visible as bearer of paint.

the lineal symmetry around the central, vertical axis is brought out by the color placement. an imbalance occurs. often, a light form stands against a dark form, center and foundation become mutually inverse. the symmetrical form is a means of concentration, rest and refers to the colors and their interrelation. the geometric forms are not ends in themselves, but rather vehicles, formal frameworks. construction serves clarification.

the colors of the foundation - which is the middle of the framework, exclusively in shades of gray and black - are color neutral and determine the impression of the complete work group. the paint „separates itself outwardly from its surroundings“, says wörn. if one compares the gray and black shades one becomes aware of the fine differentiation between light and dark, cold and warm, brownish, greenish and reddish. the range of contrast can be wide, even very wide, or minimal, to the threshold of perception.
in contrast, the center is the focus, the action field of strong, intensive contrasts of many colors up to complementary pairs: red-green, blue-orange, violet-yellow. occasionally, the color pairs appear consciously next to their exact compliment. but other color pairs also turn up: blue/green-yellow/green, respectively, red/yellow and the like. the centers are the „combustion chambers“, the „imbalances in movement“, as wörn said, always in correspondence with the foundation, with the framing.

martin wörn, born 1954, has concerned himself with the phenomenon of color for 20 years, as well as color theory, such as itten or albers, which in many cases, however, didn’t help much with his own exploration. but what is important to him is the color spectrum, which he describes as a „mental background“ and „thought model“. He asks „what is red?“ and answers „red is an idea“.

in wörn’s practical work, color means the pigment itself, the powder as material, its color, its power of illumination, newness, purity and materiality. He mixes every color anew for the painting process, determining its degree of shine, its intensity and color temperature. he gets the paint powder from the pigment manufacturer. it is the raw material to which he adds binder, such as acrylic. he has got 30 gray and 12 black pigments on stock. paint production becomes a craft process anticipating the artistic effect. from the „technical occasion“, he says, arises the artistic statement and the occasion to perceive, with all the possible confusions by the color interrelations and their image on the retina.

the surfaces possess a subtlety that can hardly be described: tender, velvety up to a light shimmer, firm, or like untouched steam on a window. they are elements of a perceivable and touchable reality. color and paint surface are values of sensation and expression: seeing becomes the actual subject matter.

his artistic work is of consistent radicality. „color and form are the content of my painting“, said wörn.

(peter staechelin, freiburg, may 1998)