Lights, Lines + Numbers
February 6, 2021 – April 8, 2021
Visual artist Monika Wulfers presents a series of original paintings and a hand-crafted light sculpture representing the minimalist geometric forms that result when randomly generated points in space are connected intentionally by lines. The resultant geometries are explored here in both two- and three- dimensional art as paintings and light sculpture – much as architects explore building designs.
Born in Berlin, Monika Wulfers works and lives in Chicago. She earned a B.A. in Philosophy from North Central College, Naperville, and an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied Film under Stan Brakhage and Painting under Ray Yoshida and Ted Halkin. She has made significant contributions in art and technology and has advanced the use of the computer as an artistic medium.
Recent light sculptures, paintings, and drawings parallel the mathematical systems she uses in her work with computers. Her work has been shown in museums in the U.S. and internationally and is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Elmhurst Art Museum, DePaul University and Argonne National Laboratory also in Illinois; the Wilhelm-Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany – as well as numerous private collections.
Over the past five decades, her work has been exhibited widely and has received numerous critical reviews:
“Public perception of the history of minimalist and conceptual art is dominated by male artists working out of New York City: Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, and so on. A recent 2014 show of neon “drawings” by the German-American artist Monika Wulfers… suggests that this paradigm is not the last word on the genealogy of minimalism.” – Hyperallergic
“Monika Wulfers explores the concept of ‘line’ in striking, minimal sculptures and paintings. The depiction demands the examination of the relationship of the viewer to the line and the line as an artificial object of space. Placement, scale, and mathematical concepts relating to objects in space are an important part of her work. Abstract components are two-dimensionally described eliminating arbitrary gesture and subjective design… She depicts reality, not by showing the object itself in her painting and sculpture but by showing its interior dimension.” – St. Louis Magazine
“Monika Wulfers’ installations invite the viewer to participate in the artwork by energizing spaces with the expanding energy of activated gas trapped in glass tubes. By acknowledging that perceptions are (often) playing tricks, the viewer comes to realize the limits of their (own) perceptions. What at first seems a random installation of randomly sized rods of white light becomes upon further inspection a series of geometric forms… in that moment of understanding, the viewer may be transported to a transcendent space where the art no longer confronts but comforts.” – Ken Saunders, ON NEON
“Complex units such as a square or a circle are composed of space, points, and outlines. The smallest unit, seemingly the simplest, a point, can be defined by a gestural mark. A point can also be defined by numerical notation. A point can be considered an objective unit. Letters and numerals can be considered objective units. These units serve as organizing elements of reality. I am working with the relationships of these units as premise for visual knowing, art.” (April, 1979)
I work with lines, numbers, and light. Moments of vision came from observing simple natural effects and shaped my understanding of space. While appearing rational, my work is conceived intuitively. A metaphor for creativity, while learning to fly I realized an airplane never flies in a straight line but rather, angulates almost sideways toward its destination.
Experimenting with ideas to make space visible I drew lines inside given outlines. Looking for a faster pencil I began using computers and added numbers to calculate points on a two and three-dimensional grid to generate lines.
I chose light after an experience of ‘white light’ followed by an immediate sense of extreme well-being. My first use of light was realized on computer-generated 35 mm slides and presented as a projection. Since then, I have utilized various media to explore and express the forms and spaces created by connecting randomly generated numeric points in space.