Nanne Meyer: Bar Lines – On the Drawings of Ingo Fröhlich

”What do I draw when I draw nothing?”

 „Drawings are done with a point that moves.“ Philip Rawson

Drawing, interrogating the functions and possibilities of this medium through drawing, has always interested Ingo Fröhlich next to his work as a sculptor. In the last ten years, drawings have moved to the center of his artistic practice, and after the loss of sight in his right eye, it has gained even greater significance for him.

”What do I draw when I draw nothing?”

This question, which Ingo Fröhlich poses at the beginning of his three-volume compendium linien, striche & kritzeleien [lines, strokes, and scribbles] is not aligned with the claim of the traditional art of drawing: to draw something that refers to the visible world.

That which Ingo Fröhlich refers to as “nothing” in his question is nothing less than drawing itself. The process of drawing is his subject. He is not interested in what is there already, what can be observed and retraced and understood through drawing, but rather in what is not (yet) there, what we can (as of yet) not see, what emerges in the process of drawing, which only then becomes part of the visible world.

In this spirit, I will pose his question a little differently:

What does Ingo Fröhlich draw when he draws drawing?

He draws strokes and lines that are strokes and lines, their density, length, properties, their forms.

He draws line thickness in relation to the format, the rhythm, the materialization of time, the speed and its effects on the line. Drawing for him is activity, process, trace, variation, thinking, thoughtless thinking, simple, direct, immediate, personal.

The alphabet of drawing is the stroke or line.

The line is the trace of a movement, and one can see how it was made: quickly or slowy, strongly or fleetingly.

The means are simple: paper, pencils, sometimes also stamps or stencils.

Drawing is complex: there is an idea, a notion in one’s head, that takes shape from there through the movement of the hand on paper A field is demarcated in one’s head, a piece of paper is placed on the table. Once the parameters are determined, drawings come about in a rhythmic process. Stroke by stroke, line by line, they fill the surface, thematize movement, time, interstices. “Monotonous activity as a principle of drawing,” Ingo Fröhlich calls his way of working. His drawings show what happens when drawing. Every stroke, every line is a trace of sensation.

What is being drawn:

„criss-cross – vertically striped – point enlargement – jumping lines – entangled line – layered lines – bar lines – line current – cross sequences – snail line – connecting lines – hanging bundles …“

A selection from the list of about 120 stipulations from Ingo Fröhlich’s linie, striche & kritzeleien, an attempt to do a comparative systematization  of the variety of line arrangements in a three-volume publication.

Here Ingo Fröhlich’s principle becomes clear: as if to confirm for himself again and again that even with the same stipulation and execution, it is impossible o ever produce two identical drawings, he always makes several – at the very least two – drawings following the same stipulation. It is the vibrant process of drawing, the adventure of variety in repetition, the difference in the seemingly same. Two seemingly identical drawings: whether simple hatchings, wave-like nets or delicately vibrating line structures; they call on us to view them in a meandering while simultaneously carefully comparing fashion.

Ingo Fröhlich’s drawings emerge in a process that is on the one hand obsessive, on the other hand highly differentiated. The large number of drawings made under the premise of reduction, simplicity, and repetition, call for order and systematization. In the year 2000, Fröhlich built a wooden container, entitled Zeichnung, Sammlung, Archiv [Drawing, Collection, Archive] with drawer-like tableaux that can be pulled out, which present postcard-sized drawings, arranged by stipulations, in a rigorous grid. This archive does not just unfold a systematic examination of the line in drawing; but here drawing and object, weight and lightness, line and space thought and material are also united into a complex whole.

Ingo Fröhlich once again tool up this form of presentation for this exhibition.

These tableaux, which can be pulled out, presenting two drawings for comparison, can be looked at individually in succession, and thus enable the beholder to really engage with the differences in what seems to be the same.

Ingo Fröhlich is an obsessive and at the same time subtle, sensitive artist, who takes the material he works with seriously by continuously varying it – the qualities of line, movement, time, and space.

Space is the plane on which his drawings take place: from a postcard format and paper filling a wall, all the way to entire rooms, where the floor and ceiling also become part of the drawing.

“Drawing is the perception and depiction of time,” says Ingo Fröhlich. “Drawing explains the world to me.”

Nanne Meyer