Clearing (Archive Kurt Wehlte)

2014, 9 pieces series, each 84 x 200 cm, UV-print on nettle cloth

commissioned work for the exhibition geradezu momentan, an exhibition marking the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Academy of Fine Arts, Dresden (DE), curated by Prof. Dietmar Rübel

in collaboration with / exhibition views by Robert Vanis
Kurt Wehlte (1897-1973), German specialist for painting technique and official expert in legal proceedings on the authenticity of pieces of art, often used X-ray images in his analysis of paintings. X-ray may reveal preliminary sketches and improvements, thus providing insight into the artist’s work process.

In the installation "Lichtung" (Clearing), Julia Gaisbacher restages as auratic works nine selected X-ray images from the hundreds of X-ray plates that comprise the Wehlte archive. Printed to fabric and re-contextualized, the subject is reintroduced to the realm of art – the medium also makes reference to the spiritual transformation of the Shroud of Turin from a profane object to a cultic symbol. However, X-ray images of historical portraits may also be read as a disclosure of the construction of the representation of external appearance. While laypersons lead contemporary production of images in quantitative terms, in historical portraits, the visual representation of individuals was trusted to trained masters only.