The Inversion of Memory

Nov 19, 2021 — Feb 28, 2022

“The Inversion of Memory” – and the artistic reinterpretation of the Carpets of the Forgotten appears as a mirror image of the information society, where it fails to establish transparency to decide amidst the bewildering array of content for the one, the other, or even the whole. 

From November 19, 2021, AOA;87 presents a selection of carpet works and canvases from the two latest series by the artist Holger Schmidhuber, titled CARPETS OF THE FORGOTTEN and THE INVERSION OF MEMORY. The art historian Sascha Winter points out the central theme of memory, already resonating in the titles of the cycles. Both series also share other aspects. AOA;87 picks up on precisely these aspects with the exhibition The Inversion of Memory in Bamberg. The juxtaposition in the exposition aims to make both the artistic development and the aspect of “memory pieces” (Schmidhuber) visible in different directions. For the artist himself, the two cycles are in a process of growth, continually producing new works. 

A symbolic example of the artist’s endeavor to visualize fragments of memory is the work FAITH – DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. The artwork prompts the viewer to reflect on directions of thought and adopt new perspectives. For this purpose, Holger Schmidhuber employs conventional visual artistic means as well as innovative interdisciplinary methods. Colors, shapes, as well as words and short sentences serve as visual components and “memory carriers”. In the interplay between arbitrariness and calculation, colors, shapes, and words are combined and weighted anew each time, so that the “memory carriers” in the composition sometimes appear isolated, intertwine at other times, complement each other, or stand side by side as equals. In summary, it can be stated that color almost always plays a dominant role. 

Schmidhuber produces the colors himself, without disclosing the exact recipe. Their composition is crucial for the physical and semantic connection of the individual “memory carriers”. The significance of color in Schmidhuber’s works goes far beyond the mere necessity of successful technical execution. It is also the primary instance for “memory fragments”. How deep these memories can go in terms of evolutionary development is documented by scientific studies. Already in the embryonic state, humans differentiate colors and associate them with feelings. 

Not only does the pigment mixture follow the artist’s vision, but also the method of applying color. There is a color explosion, which seems to consist of fragmentation and simultaneous composition. On the one hand, Schmidhuber achieves enormous expressiveness with brush and squeegee; on the other hand, the viewer can perceive strict calculation in the oversharpened form of the “memory fragments”. When calculating and converting into computer-generated graphics, the artist receives assistance from artificial intelligence. In the cycle The Inversion of Memory, he then prints these graphics onto canvases. Color cannot function as a visual component detached from Schmidhuber’s artworks. Overlays are crucial elements of the works. 

In the Bamberg exhibition, significant differences in reflection on the image carrier can also be discerned. For the first series of works, the artist used hand-knotted woven carpets. In the younger cycle, he prints canvases with the ornamentation of the carpet and reworks them – partially to complete erasure. The juxtaposition of carpet and canvas allows the different, sometimes opposing processes to be perceptible. The principle also applies here: although the artist has the organizing power, the completion of the artwork is left to the imprinting and interpretation of the viewer. 

It is different with the works on canvases from the younger cycle. While the former function of the carpets still comes to the forefront, the “memory fragments” on the canvases appear distorted, hardly perceptible. Painted or printed carpet fragments are overlaid with numerous layers of color or other memory carriers, almost completely masking them. 

If the viewer nevertheless recognizes carpet fragments, then these are embedded in a dense, impenetrable mesh of memories. The viewer must dig up his memories of tactile and content-related experiences with carpets, reconstruct them, and incorporate them into the interpretation of the present composition. There is an almost inscrutable inversion of the “memory carriers”. Image carrier and image design components play a memory-rich, even explosive concert in the viewer’s mind. Reminiscences of Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter can be recognized.”

The Inversion of Memory, Holger Schmidhuber, installation view, AOA;87 Bamberg, 2021
The Inversion of Memory, Holger Schmidhuber, installation view, AOA;87 Bamberg, 2021
The Inversion of Memory, Holger Schmidhuber, installation view, AOA;87 Bamberg, 2021
The Inversion of Memory, Holger Schmidhuber, installation view, AOA;87 Bamberg, 2021
The Inversion of Memory, Holger Schmidhuber, installation view, AOA;87 Bamberg, 2021