in|d|ex|ternal: internally, located on the interior / a sign having its sign-constituting character in a secondness or an existential relation to its object. An index requires an individual existence of both itself and its object / located outside, or outwardly.
Painting? Installation? Collage? Print? Photography? Video? Performance? Henning Strassburger has already answered these questions.
His oeuvre is driven by intermediality. His work, propelled by innovation, never standing still, is always focussed on the negation of repetition. Despite its intermediality, pure painting remains the point of departure for his oeuvre and announces itself as a transition to process; a process that evolves into ever recurring figural elements from non-figurative painting characterised by the heavy application of paint and a gestural ductus.
A scrutinizing of the subject and its meaning within his painting is taken as its central theme. Painting and its conventional motifs are to be replaced. The search for a stand-in for his original painting begins on this path and finds itself in the displacement of abstract form to the edge of the image. Colour fields are set at the centre of the pictorial space, in a CMYK array for instance. The canvas starts to oscillate between pure painting and print-aesthetic approaches. The colour plane moves to the centre and becomes the bearer of meaning. Strassburger’s operations throw up the questions: What is painting as such? What is its subject? At what point does the image become an illustration, the motif a style?
Strassburger’s transformative process begins, making pure figuration out of what was initially still an emphatically corporeal style at the edges of the image. Elements such as ears or door handles act as stand-ins for his hitherto customary gestural painting. The ‘internal’ motif, whether figurative or abstract, no longer stands in any necessary relation to his ‘external’ painting. Strassburger provokes a scrutiny of borders and prompts the viewer to critically examine his perception. The differentiated implementation of this form of intelligent painting always intentionally prescribes for itself the same inference, though it is provided with other subjects. This gives rise to a formal vocabulary that can be variably deployed on the bearer of the image. His painterly process thereby attains a freedom that cannot be derived from rule.
Painting is an adventure embarked upon – a disengagement from the classical value system. Henning Strassburger formulates new questions of motif and style. He looks for their stand-ins. Answer or expedient: indexternal painting. Jan Kaps