Art in America
Reviews Nov. 01, 2011

Franziska Furter
at Lullin + Ferrari, Zurich

by Aoife Rosenmeyer

The entrance of Lullin + Ferrari was in disarray, decked with the jagged bunting of Rift (2011), which hung from the ceiling and draped down to the floor. The matte black of the pennants against the white gallery walls enhanced the mood of drama; perhaps a celebration had ended in an unexpected fracas. Inside the main space, more familiar Franziska Furter (b. 1972) works were on view. For the graphite-on-paper series “Dust I-III” (2011), she continued a process she used for the 2009 “Draft” series. She takes insignificant background elements from cartoons or other existing images, digitally refines and enlarges them, and then remakes them by hand. This time, the results of her part-digital, part-manual method are limited to vertical and horizontal lines, with varying degrees of hatched overlap, echoing (one in particular) Mondrian’s Pier and Ocean works, his decisive step to abstraction. The dense graphite makes the exposed paper blindingly white, creating dynamic drawings that took possession of the gallery space. Furter’s process of reduction increases the power of the drawings rather than diminishing them. As with Mondrian’s simplifications, what remains is a potent essence, a concentration of drawn motion.

“Crystal Silence I-IV” (2011) presents another type of line: delicate, spidery, three-dimensional webs of small black crystals resting on pedestals. Their shapes are loose yet controlled, and they appear as if they could have formed as organically as a crystal. Equally delicate is another drawing series, “Fath” (2011), the title an abbreviation of Fathom, an unrealized wall drawing proposed for a site-specific installation in Alsace. These three drawings are small circular scribbles rendered in aluminum leaf on paper. Furter draws and then edits her lines, creating precise and controlled interlaced coils with the inexorability of planetary orbits.

Titled “Hyle,” a philosophical term signifying matter or substance, this exhibition as a whole was successful. From the entrance to its furthest reaches—where one found the small wall-mounted sculpture Bourdon (2010), nylon thread twisted into the form of filigree coral—each piece possessed clarity and created a vessel for synesthetic associations, the sounds and feelings of imminent action. This was exemplified in the inscrutable black of Rift, which suggested an absence that needed to be filled. It was as if the pennants belonged to a scene filmed in front of a blue screen and awaited the insertion of content. During a residency in Egypt last year Furter had seen similar bunting strung up during Ramadan; in the gallery and in the context of the Arab Spring, these slips of fabric seemed ready for the political stripes of the moment, be they the colors of the oppressor or the underdogs.

Photo: Franziska Furter: Bourdon, 2010, nylon, 12 by 10 by 5 inches; at Lullin + Ferrari.