CHAUFFER  presents  a  solo  exhibition  by  German  artist  Timo  Kube.  Sensibilities  is  an exhibition composed of works that incorporate and direct attention toward materials, abstraction,  and  objects.  Situated  across  the  gallery  wall  and  floor,  the  objects  appear primarily – but not entirely – abstract. The abstraction varies between hard-edged monochromatic  forms  and  more  subtle  details  of  textures  and  variations  of  colour.  Mirrors covered  in  silk,  for  instance,  both  reflect  and  partially  obscure  what  appears  to  audiences through textures and colours; a canvas pressed and rubbed with white chalk, and mixed with a Japanese seaweed called funori, brings attention to the hand and touch; a dark cylindrical container  holds  water  that  germinates  into  an  odorous  bog.  Sensibilities  is  an  exhibition  of materially condensed objects that open up viewing experiences aesthetically.

Audiences  view  objects  that,  more  or  less,  resist  definition  and  medium  specificity;  these might  appear  as  paintings  and  sculpture  but  the  experience  in  viewing  the  works  opens  up (the)  senses  of  what  they  ‘are’.  They  may,  conversely,  appear  more  than  they  really  are.  Formally,  there  is  some  resonance  with  conventions  of  minimalism,  where  the  notion  of object  is  bolstered  by  mantras  like  ‘what  you  see  is  what  you  get.’  This  might  be  all  too obvious;  however,  the  role  of  experiencing  the  materials  –  not  only  by  viewing  through senses  of  sight  but  also  touch  and  smell  –  opens  up  some  foundational  phenomenological questions  –  What  is  there?  Where  did  that  come  from?  How  did  that  come  to  be?  What  is given and who gives? Where does the work take place?

Experience  is  key  to  how  these  complex  objects  come  across  materially,  formally,  and sensuously. They have the capacity to appear both formally neutral and sensuously complex, viewable from a distance and yet emotive and proximate. The experience depends on how audiences as ‘viewers’ let themselves approach, come towards, or, one might even say,  be  disposed.  Disposition  also  plays  an  important  role  towards  letting  the  experience happen. That is to say, how each of us is inclined and oriented, or disposed, toward viewing; by letting the senses take from, or be given over to, the experience of what appears given. Letting sight, but also touch (from a distance, without direct contact) and even smell (there is a  bog  that  slowly  develops  an  earthy  odour)  form  the  encounter  with  objects  that  give something. Giving what appears by ‘being there’ – and possibly more. Sensibilities  is  therefore  an  exhibition  that  plays  upon  the  senses  and  a  variety  of  emotive responses to formally reduced yet materially complex works.

It  is  of  course  complicated  when  it  comes  to  writing  or  talking  about  works  that  seem  quite abstract. What more is there to know or say about works that – at least at first glance, briefly and hastily viewed – seem so non-pictorial, so non-representational? Not clear enough? Do they  need  more  ‘explanation’?  Are  the  works  to  be  left  to  experience  alone,  to  encounter what  resists  being  known  or  (readily)  said?  Perhaps.  As  ‘art’,  the  works  can  be  left  as  they seem:  mysterious,  ambiguous,  ironic.  Resistant  to  analysis  and  description.  For  Kube,  it  is not  only  art  that  plays  a  part  in  the  work  but  also,  and  more  essentially,  an  aesthetic experience. The following text can be used as notes for audiences as ‘viewers’ to give some context and, if one will, orientations too.



The  works  are  mounted  at  levels  and  set  in  locations  that  are  amenable  to  aesthetic experiences.  Experiences  that,  over  time  and  with  attention  to  the  materials,  ensue  from something  sensuous  and  indeed  thought  provoking.  Subtle  and  changeable.  Responsive and emotive. ‘Sensibilities’ has to do with a variety of experiences, and more specifically with certain phenomenological encounters. The experience is aesthetic by giving audiences ways of viewing foremost with the senses and through an encounter. The encounter is a sensuous
way of letting oneself be disposed towards objects that give what is essential, elemental. In phenomenological  terms,  the  elemental  is  what  is  essential,  the  stuff  that  discloses  ‘things-in-themselves.’
What  is  meant  by  things-in-themselves  in  this  case?  The  notion  of  things-in-themselves  is complicated, especially when it comes to connotations of substance and essence, as in the Latin Substantia and Essentia. The debates around this philosophical issue of essences and substances  are  enormous  and  therefore  cannot  be  discussed  effectively  in  this  text.  What should at least be noted is that for Kube the aesthetic experience has less to do with things as  substances  and  essences  and  more  to  do  with  how  works  ‘locate’  and  ‘constitute’  the
sense of a world. The things that make up the objects elementally, and more specifically as world-constituting,  are,  in  this  case,  materials  like  silk,  chalk,  funori,  or  water  mixed  with anthracite.  The  materials  locate  something  essential  and  indeed  representational  to  the object-like  works.  These  are  not  purely  abstract  works.  Because  the  materials  give  a sensuous form to representation; chalk, water, anthracite, for instance, give and make sense of where they are commonly encountered – land, earth, world, and so forth. In this way, the world-constituting locality of the materials representationally challenge pure abstraction.  
Pragmatically  speaking,  the  materials  give  possibilities  to  the  How:  how  the  works  take place, how they are born, how they are created. And indeed, how the works continue to take place, locate, and constitute the sense of a world.

One example that presents such an encounter is Untitled Bog. It is a work that continues to take form and change in its chemical formation. Here, a polypropylene container (conventionally purposed for pipes that are laid in the ground for water irrigation and also for manholes) holds a volume of fresh water. The water appears dark due to both the reflection of the matt black hue of the polypropylene, but also what seems ‘hidden’: anthracite, which is a  variant  of  coal  purposed  also  for  producing  graphite.  Kube  is  specific  about  this  material when he elaborates, ‘anthracite can turn into graphite in the material’s further metamorphosis.’ Industrially it is used for blacksmithing, heating and more so in our present day as a substrate to turn it into activated carbon for filtering fresh drinking water.’ Over days
and weeks, the water mixes with the anthracite and polypropylene; an organic and chemical transformation takes place that, in effect, complicates the supposed purity of the water. The water  takes  on  a  darker  tone.  Colours  subtly  buoy  up,  surfacing  deep  blues,  purples, magentas;  murky  yet  chromatic  liquid  subtly  saturates  the  senses.  Colourful  gradients saturate  the  liquid  surface  of  the  cylindrical  object.  Bend  over,  view  the  liquid.  See  it  shine. Like an idol, it bedazzles. There is more. The bog takes place through a transformation that
complicates connotations of organic nature. There is no pure organic formation of earthy and purely natural elements. No, because the polypropylene and anthracite keep intensifying the chemical  composition  of  the  water.  Over  the  course  of  the  exhibition  an  odour  also  grows. Audiences can smell and take it in, internalize the bog. They may or may not like what they smell. Transit also plays into the trans-formative process. The water has not been transported; instead only the polypropylene container has been shipped – overseas. Decanted  is  the  water  from  Kube’s  studio  in  East  London,  UK;  water  from  (an  undisclosed location  in)  Sydney,  Australia  poured  in.  (Commerce  and  markets  arguably  come  into  this transit and transformation but these notes do not have the space in this case to go into such issues,  economic  issues  that  underly  the  so-called  real  world.)  What  can  be  suggested  is that  the  Untitled  Bog  appears  as  a  kind  of  worldly  conduit;  it  points  to  an  outside.  In  the space of the exhibition it sets up an object to go around, go away to the other works, come back,  hold  still,  view  from  above  and  in  the  round,  and  so  on.  This  going-round  might  also become a bit disorienting.
To the ecological worldview, of material having a purely natural substance, Untitled Bog may just be a work that, alongside other works in this exhibition, poses something disorienting.


Different  angles  of  viewing  change  how  the  works  appear.  This  might  seem  obvious.  Note the stress on appearances. Appearances can be disorienting, even marvellously disorienting.  Take  for  instance  Untitled  Silk  (in  Amber)  #1.  View  it  say  at  a  diagonal,  to  the left and from a few feet away; one will see the rectangular – and portrait-like dimension – of the surface. Here, the work as an object appears materially textured and optically reflective too.  But  what  about  the  viewer?  Can  you  get  into  it,  get  lost  in  the  object?  Can  you  let yourself be as much a subject as the object viewed? Strange questions, no doubt. But look, think again. There, over the object’s surface, gradients of colour appear subtle, shimmering; the amber hue opens and fans out into tones that, if one moves slightly and slowly side-to-side, shift like air, shift from yellow to orange and red. The colours are also presented further through  the  materials,  a  chromatic  gradient  that  shimmers  from  amber  to  fire  to  copper...
Now,  step  more  to  the  front,  perpendicularly  facing  the  piece:  there,  ‘finding  yourself’,  like narcissus, appearing in the reflection. In the picture even. Although not clearly reflected, the silk  obstructs  the  clarity  of the mirror. Consider that the surface obstruction gives you, the viewer, ways of seeing yourself and other surrounding things; things appear in the  space  (studio,  gallery) as if in a kaleidoscope. You may just see how you view  things  as  they  seem to appear to you: a texture of reality. Like silk, the texture and colours play on your desire. Untitled  Silk  (in  violet)  #1 curiously uses a convex mirror. The mirror increases the viewing of space  –  and  beyond  the viewer  as  one  and  alone. The  convex  mirror  bends the object outward and therefore lets the surroundings become reflected ‘inside’, appearing within the distended mirror as a pictorial space. This play of appearances, of reflections and also  shadowy  figures,  disorients  the  viewer’s  position.  The  disorientation  is  towards  any position  –  and  arguably  supreme  orientation  –  of  the  individual  holding  onto  their  view  as ‘purely subjective’. That is in attempting to view the works and space – and indeed world – as if detached and from some birds-eye view. 

Depending  on  the  viewer’s  disposition  –  no  one  is  forcing  or  controlling  them  –  such experiences can be disorienting. Disorienting in ways that de-centre the viewer. Disorienting in ways that – and, though painful and unfathomable this may be for some – may also open different  forms  of  world  and  world-view  –  beyond  the  supremacy  of  humans  being  the supreme species at the centre of the world.  
The disorientation of the self: the disposition to ‘subjectively’ view things outside, as if detached from the object, is now challenged psychologically and ideologically. The world-view of the detached observer, of viewing  as  if  oriented  by being-at-the-centre-of-the world, is now reflected. Out of joint. Go around the exhibition,  from  the  water-filled container to the objects  on  the  wall,  back and forth, round and round... The disorientation is in, and up to (if disposed), the viewer giving  themselves  over  to the objects viewed.  
Return  to  the  silk  covered mirror. There the viewer appears  more  shadowy,  a  hazy  figure  floating  amongst  other  figures  appearing  in  the surrounding  space.  Now  even  quite  anonymous.  The  viewer  now  appears  an  absent  yet present  figure,  much  like  a  stain  in  the  picture.  The  silk  gives  a  seductive  quality  to  this sense of figural loss, a desire of viewing oneself there and not there at the same time. Desire in  giving  oneself  over  to  the  work.  Desire  to  be  visible  and  in  a  space  that  renders  the  ‘I’ invisible. Desire to lose oneself and appear..... in-visible. 


Visible and In-Visible

In-visible? What is meant by the in-visible? The in-visible can be considered as the sense of how the viewer might encounter themselves in the work – and not by direct participation or interaction.  The  in-visible  has  to  do  with  how  the  viewer  can  become  as  much  visible,  and indeed disoriented, within the object as they are also appearing to themselves – an object of desire.  The  desire  to  see  oneself,  to  orient  oneself,  to  feel  and  centre  oneself...  Or  not.  In-visible then as the experience of viewing oneself  in  the  work  as  a kind of partial-object (reflected as a head, shoulder,  torso,  hand,  and so  on).  The  note  in  this case may seem complicated. But it is to say, and to put it very plainly, that there are possibilities of losing oneself  as  a  viewer  in  the experience. The losing might  be  more  specifically considered as an experience of giving, giving oneself over to works  that  are  not  merely (abstract)  objects.  In  this way the viewer is a subject that gives themselves  over  to  being visibly ‘included’ as an object of desire that is encountered aesthetically in the experience.  

Abstraction  may  seem  to  be  quintessentially  formal  and  non-representational.  One  might briefly  glance  and  then  simply  judge  by  thinking  ‘Oh,  those  look  like  a  bunch  of  minimal objects.’  The  appearance  of  colourful  rectangles  and  a  dark  cylinder  might  imply  this  quick judgement. However, depending on the viewing experience and indeed disposition (inclination,  orientation,  desire)  the  works  can  disclose  materials  and  complex  details,  such as gradients and textures, that not only give something pictorial but also draw in the viewer as  an  in-visible  figure.  Again,  because  the  viewer  is  visible  as  an  object  they  appear  within and  in  common  with  the  works.  But  with  a  twist.  The  viewer  is  there,  present  and  yet struggling  to  NOT  see  themselves  as  the  fundamental  subject  or  thing/object.  This  is perhaps the hardest task: to give up oneself (individually and as species) in being the centre of  the  experience  and  world.  The  experience  of  becoming  a  subject  enmeshed  with  the object, in-visible, might seem philosophically overcomplicated. However, the encounter with mirrors  and  other  reflective  surfaces  –  covered  by  fabrics  like  silk  –  gives  the  viewer  an aesthetic  experience  that  challenges  distinctions  between  subject  and  object,  and  the  self-centring view of themselves as detached and supreme.

You  are  in  the  work  because  you  appear  there  with  the  objects.  You  appear  in  ways  that relate  and  indeed  connect  you  with  objects  as  things,  and  things  that  appear  outside. Appearing  by  being  with  things  out  in  the  world,  and  without  being  able  to  go  ‘inside’  any individualistic and detached self.
The disposition in viewing oneself as a detail, as a shadowy figure, is a way of giving you as the  viewer  over  to  the  very  object  and  world  given  and  to  be  viewed  as  such.  To  lose yourself  can  seem  negative,  can  indeed  become  painful  (in  a  very  crucial  way,  not  to  be ignored or subdued). And joyful at some other point. Experience will tell.  
These notes are in no way intended to explain, figure out, or give more than what the works give. May the experience take the lead, open up views, meanings, worlds. This in so much as  a  viewer  you  might  just  get  caught  up  in  objects  that  reflect  desires,  desires  that  are  in you and more than you alone.
- Robert Luzar -


by Robert Luzar

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