The Point as Agent of Art

Every encounter with the art of Reinhard Roy adjusts itself earlier or later, at its first perception or from mature consideration, to the element, from which we have the beginning and the end, to the point. It is the encounter with the point in its thematic diversity: as an element of subtle raster arrangements in painting, as an element of constellations in works on paper and other materials, as an individual pole in sculptural bodies, as a symbolic connotation. The numeration can also be carried out in reverse sequence. And now, to get to the point to which Kandinsky came in the Bauhaus of 1926: to the point as basic element. As an introduction, he devoted several pages in his book “Point and Line at the Surface”, which one assumes applicable and as a renewed encounter in the work of Reinhard Roy.

Kandinsky: The geometric point is an invisible being. It must be defined as a non-material being. Thought of materially, the point is like a zero. However, different properties are hidden in this zero, which are “human”. In our imagination, this zero – the geometric point – is connected with the highest scarcity, that is, with the greatest restraint which, however, speaks.

Reinhard Roy utilizes this basic element in a double way: as a mathematical quantity which can be defined empirically, as well as the center of a circle or in two poles; thus, it leaves the empirical dialogue in favor of the point as a universal. This way, the artist makes it clear that geometry can be used in art in a refined way, not least for metaphysical content.

Finally, one can become perceptive of great expression through the encounter with Roy, for instance, with the experience of the mystic Meister Eckhart: “Everything in one, in one everything”. It is striking that many poets of concrete poetry have an analogous relationship to the basic element “point” and undertake their expeditions into the language game from the point. And, in fact, the viewer of Roy’s art is as often seduced poetically as he is challenged mathematically. It is this integrated balance of two types of encountering the world, enigmatic as well as pragmatic, which makes his work into a continuously fascinating experience.

Ambivalence as a feature in Reinhard Roy’s work is also effective where it is perhaps least expected, in the especially comprehensive work of the compressed raster pieces. Heinz Gappmayr, a conceptual-concrete poet, has adopted raster work extensively, and he could thereby build on the Credo of the artist himself. Roy’s self-awareness is concentrated on the assessment that the point is the characteristic means of expression for his art. And just as characteristic is the usefulness of the point raster for structures expandable in any direction, which would offer possibilities for artistic work, in homogenous or heterogeneous form. With the raster works or the colored raster fields, Roy has allowed whole areas of unusually differentiated design solutions to result, between mathematics and a psycho-physiological network. Often they unite paradigms whose perception offers a course of events which has no rival in art.

As informational and aesthetic events, Reinhard Roy’s raster works are a unique chapter in constructive-concrete art. Yet just as attractive and significant is the other essential feature of the art constructed on the point. Here the point mostly has the form of a dark small circle and, accordingly, appears not in structural fields but in rows and sequences. It offers philosophical considerations – for instance, on the being or the ruthlessness of existence. For the situation of a terminating row of points on a high shaft × × × poses questions, for instance, about the end of a sequence in general. Roy has presented consequences – where the right end point must lie outside and the true end is obvious. Sometimes, however, he carries out the strict order of a field of points at the top to the end; however, this is unreachable for verticality.

Another function becomes evident in the works on paper. There the environment acts materially morbid, ordinary. The point is clearly e × panded to the circle. The circle, the dark hole, is one perspective. Under it, another layer of paper shimmers through. These works on paper are quite different in the encounter with Reinhard Roy. Instead of the mathematics of a precisely accurate color raster follows the precise accuracy of real life. Here the point and hidden properties are speaking. These are the “human” ones that Kandinsky recognized.

Yet another step in observation leads to object studies and to objects filling space with perfect execution. Of course, everything remains with the basic element point. These are works of maturity. The point can be a pipe, a canal, a cross-section in the form of a circle. But it is there and accompanies mysteriously. It does not let go of Roy and, conversely, Roy doesn’t let go of it. The point as universal means that the general is inherent in the individual; that is, the whole has precedence.

The concentration on the roundness of the point requires material presence and awakens physical e × istence. So it is a matter of felt circumstances. How much surface and how much body is there in proportion to this one dark point, which has long become an axis, a type of mortise?

The most notable event in the behavior of point by point concentration is a two-part object of steel. It presents itself in two things which belong together and awaken the lure of their connection, virtually funnel and its use × × × . Someone who knows the point that is important can create and claim it. Until a year ago, the two-part steel sculpture, selected for the residence of the German Federal President, was located in the park of Villa Bellevue in Berlin. The idea of unification and the lasting allure of the implementation are truly a dignified symbol.

Not so representative as the steel sculpture is an object of wood, painted white. With it, the “point” symbol’s claim of dominance has turned over into a neutral round design.

The point has arrived at the circle. However, whoever has been prepared by all the previous phases of work with the dominant point will also recognize the basic element of Reinhard Roy in the continuing composition of the white object. Seen as a cross-section, every segment of the composition is a circle with two different halves. The one is a filled-in surface and the other is a perspective under a half circle hanger × × × . With the repeated circular form, inviolable and beyond the arbitrary, Reinhard Roy reminds us why we need the basic element for our orientation and, finally, why we need art.

© Eugen Gomringer.
december 2011