___ Anyone who cuts into something changes its form with a relatively small intervention. This can be seen in a simple way by applying scissors to a piece of paper. Suddenly, there are no longer four corners; as a result of the incision, there are two more where it begins. The sheet, in turn, remains in its outlines. The division that has taken place does not result in a complete separation into two parts. Nevertheless, something happens to the form. The cut, however short, opens the initial material. What is behind shines through. A cut thus changes the form not only inwardly, but also its relationship to its outside.

___ Wolfram Ullrich does not cut paper; he cuts steel. His affinity to metal, which was already evident in the 1980s, is based on a fascination with the durability and resistance of this hard material. Both things distinguish it clearly from paper. Steel has its own precision, its own immediacy. Nevertheless, it can be relatively easily worked by someone knowledgeable with the right tools available. The cut, made in a strict line, opens up for Wolfram Ullrich the opportunity for a transformation, for giving a new form. Form becomes composition. More than that: form becomes a thing.

___ The cut makes the tension between inside and outside visible. The outside has an inward effect for the first time: the two dovetail to form a coherent system. By means of the cut, the initially calm form at the outset is set in motion for the first time, which has an influence on both the form and the surrounding space.

___ These works are already about the interplay of colour and material, material and colour. There is something inherently base, something provisional, about material. It is similar with colour. The term “colour” is mentioned; it is quickly associated with painting. But even if these works are certainly pictorial in their conception, they by no means bear anything painterly in them. Moreover, with their cuts they are far from radiating in the bright colour that dominated in Wolfram Ullrich’s latest works. That does not, however, mean that they dispense entirely with colour. His works in black shades are, as a rule, not painted but they are treated. He covers sheets of metal with a patina, resulting in a thin, coloured film on their surfaces. The reddish-brown exhibits, by contrast, have a colour that derives from the metal itself: rust. As a product of corrosion, it is an inherent component of the material, thus getting around the discussion of support versus colour, since here the colour is, as it were, a component of the support. Yet it does not have an enduringly stable character but rather something processual, since the colour of rust changes over time. Simultaneously, there is a connection to Wolfram Ullrich’s early found-object pieces here. There is even an anticipation of the latest works: the potential of the edges is already inherent in many of these works of and with rust from the 1980s, where they have been treated with oil. That changes the colours and produces an interplay of smooth and matt surfaces. This influences the expression of the works. Indeed, although the works are quite planar, their hard edges in distinct colours give rise to a seemingly physical quality. The illusion of space already begins in his works featuring the cut.


Text: Dr. Theres Rohde