– or isn’t all fine art at least also about light anyway? Especially in painting? Wolfgang Schöne wrote the standard work „On Light in Painting“ many years ago, and one could certainly draw such a conclusion from it. Only: painters have to take detours. Color is matter that is also perceived as light. But it is not light, it only represents light. And color is not a property of objects (such as shape), but only the reflection of light of certain wavelengths, depending on the surface texture.
An exception are the glass painters, who, already in the Middle Ages, used light as a means for the diaphaneity of their church windows, not without theological meaning, but also with great effect. In the 1960s, after a prelude, for example, by Moholy-Nagy („Light-Space Modulator“) in the twenties, the „indirect“, the detour working with light came to an end: artists worked directly with the medium of light – Julio Le Parc, Heinz Mack, Günther Ücker, Dan Flavin, to name just a few names. Since then, „physical“ light has become a self-evident art medium, whether as a sole subject or as an agent included in an overarching pictorial function, as in Jeff Wall’s backlit Cibachromes.
JoJo Tillmann works with light in similar contexts. His light objects, however, are not constructed like backlit advertising images, but rather in various layers of C-prints, foils, and acrylic glass, held together with aluminum frames. Their boxiness, the step into spatiality that becomes thematic here, brings out the object character. In this way, the light active there in the work of art, which comes from a fluorescent tube light source –
in the more recent works usually consisting of several parts (certainly with different lengths) – is specifically excluded from the general ambient light. Thus it becomes free to work for the „picture function“ from the two „spaces“ that slide into each other and form a broken symmetry, to accentuate, as it were, different zones.
The fluorescent tubes emit a light (6500 degrees Kelvin) close to the „cold“ daylight, similar to the supermarket around the corner. This ensures clarity in appearance, because the „warm“ incandescent light (3200 degrees Kelvin) is too „dirty,“ too yellow for JoJo Tillmann. It would have to be fluorescent tubes, because with the intended compactness and the spatial compression of the visual offer and thus also the construction method, value must be placed on the lowest possible heat load.
The result is a highly differentiated perceptual object. The viewer who engages with this offer will be immersed in the light-space and will undergo a defocusing experience that will make him suddenly find himself within this imagined space. Since there is no single point of reference, no absolute point of rest, as in a central perspective image, for example, he then comes to the realization that he himself, or the „mind,“ is this point of rest.
Here is hidden a reflex to the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, which has replaced our old, fixed view of the world, without being able to reach its vividness. And so the viewer of JoJo Tillmann’s light objects is also existentially unsettled in his grasp of directions and space – a constant source of fascination.
More light! one would like to say. Please – it lies in the art itself.