Dem Komischen Gesetz Gehorchend (Following Comic Law)

Throughout centuries of Art History, works of art have conducted endless conversations with each other and have never ceased giving mutual feedback.

The visual artist Jiri Georg Dokoupil painted a canvas in 1987, depicting seven black shapes with the text: 'Following cosmic law, Dokoupil spontaneously created seven black forms on 6-6-1987.' The artwork parodies the artist inspired, guided by promptings from on high.
Dokoupil is directly referring through the painting's imagery to a series of works by the artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010), from the period 1966-1969. The white monochrome masterpiece in this series hangs in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven; its upper right-hand corner is painted black with a message in type letters below it: 'Higher beings commanded: paint the upper right corner black!'
Dokoupil's nod to Polke's vocabulary is also present in the wonderful title of his 1982 exhibition at Galerie Helen van der Meij in Amsterdam. On the reverse of the invitation card is printed: 'Befehle des Barock (Baroque Commands) - new work'.

The dialogue between Dokoupil's canvas and Polke's panel was cruelly disrupted recently. The bottom right corner of 'Following Cosmic Law' was damaged when a forklift driver rammed the crate containing the painting by accident, as the Süddeutsche Zeitung publicised in an article 'Am Ende der Kunst' on 11 June 2018.
Who knows: perhaps it hasn't suffered any irreversible damage, the hole in the canvas may be restored, or the painting may even be executed entirely anew. In any case, the unintended action of the forklift driver stimulates the imagination. I grieved and yet had to laugh out loud at this 'cosmic', but also 'comic' incident.

Martijn Sandberg, 20 June 2018

Click here for text in English, as PDF.
Click here for text in Dutch, as PDF.

'Portraits', Georg Dokoupil, portrait of the artist. Invitation card, Galerie Paul Maenz, Cologne, 1983.

'Dem kosmischen Gesetz gehorchend', Georg Dokoupil, acrylic on canvas, 115cm x 130cm, 1987.

'Befehle des Barock', Georg Dokoupil. Invitation card, Galerie Helen van der Meij, Amsterdam, 1982.

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