For over 25 years, the renowned Belgian artist group LAb[au] (Laboratory for Art and Urbanism) has been exploring the relationship between art, language, time and technology. For their first institutional solo exhibition in Germany, the collective has put together a presentation especially for the rooms of the Kunstmuseum Heidenheim that focuses on an exploration of the monochrome. Here, she is concerned with showing how monochrome surfaces can be rethought for the present and given meaning.
A highlight of the show is the largest version of her work to date, One Thousand Six Hundred Light Years. This consists of a large field of radioluminescent yellow pigment that constantly emits energy and will be extinguished in around 1600 years. Visitors can thus not only experience the intense colour, but are also encouraged to reflect on the passing of time. Surrounding this field are works that at first glance are merely black and white. Behind each work, however, is a fascinating cosmos of thought. When, for example, photocopiers are used to produce one-offs, ultra-black pigment makes differences in height disappear in a triptych or thermochromatic pigment transforms black into white squares, this shows how LAb[au] take the theories of colour field painting further with 21st century techniques.
In addition to colour, the artist group is intensely concerned with language and its translation into other systems. Like a lexicographer, LAb[au] creates entire series of books to explore infinite combinations of forms and indexes all possible ways to fill a blank white page. With their rule-based approach, the artists question materiality, process and the concept of art. How language can become abstract patterns is made clear, for example, by Jaquard carpets, in which rows of letters developed by randomising are transferred into binary codes and then woven. Equally impressive are LAb[au]s efforts to find new notations for the representation of time. Visitors to the exhibition can thus experience an entire millennium in the form of a variation of a basic pattern.
Lab[au] is a group founded in 1997 with changing members of different professions. Currently it consists of Manuel Abendroth, Jérôme Decock and Els Vermang (until 2022). The group has been awarded the Prix Victor Vasarely (Aix en Provence), the Young Belgium Painters Award (Brussels) and the Prix Médiatine (Brussels), among others. They have been able to participate in numerous exhibitions in Europe, the USA and Asia. Exhibition venues include museums such as the Louvre Paris, the New Museum and the MOMA in New York,the Kunsthal and the Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam, the Casino Luxembourg, the Musée d’Art Contemporain Montreal, the Singapore Art Museum.