Bodo Korsig at Tenri

by Jonathan Goodman

Art in America, Jan, 2008 by Jonathan Goodman
Published: December 21, 2007

Bodo Korsig keeps two studios, one in Trier, Germany, and the other in New York. His internationalism is also borne out in the glyph-like, enigmatic forms that make up his visual vocabulary. Working in a variety of mediums and modes, including woodcut, linocut, oil painting and relief sculpture, Korsig generally deploys an organic, quasi-graphic abstract idiom, and a sheer skill that has wide appeal. This show included wall pieces made of aluminum, sculptures composed of small pieces of wood, and multi-paneled paintings. Its title, "I Can't Stop," appears to apply to the artist's creative process: these irrepressible images feel like they have taken on a life of their own.

Leben schmecken! (Lives Taste!) is a 2004 triptych, with two end panels depicting what look like black sperm, each with a rounded head and a long, skinny tail and randomly placed on a white ground. In the middle panel, the work's title is printed in capital letters against a blue background. A thoroughly conceptual painting, Leben schmecken! gives visual form to ambiguous ideas; while the German phrase doesn't make exact sense, it asks that we stretch our imagination.
An engaging group of acrylic-painted, medium-size aluminum pieces called Metamorphoses (2005-06) recalls, in a general way, the components of cells seen under a microscope; the awkward, oddly shaped forms seem like viruses from another world. The whimsy of Korsig's creations often has a darkness at its center--they seem slightly menacing, and their idiosyncrasy is compelling.

Hidden Mind (2005) consists of a wall installation of 20 wooden sculptures covered with black acrylic paint; they are charming abstract shapes whose extensions, hollows and rounded edges often remind one of Jean Arp's wooden sculptures. Korsig's pieces all function individually, but there is also an underlying unity in his work, a consistent use of shapes found in nature that share subconscious and formal attractions.