Right Angular
    Wulffen Thinks About The Shape Of Things @ MOCA Cleveland

    A three-sided enclosure of narrow, unpainted boards abuts the gallery wall, a
    DIY sketch in three dimensions. Still stapled to the end of one board, a black-
    and-white skew number and bar-code tag echoes the overall color scheme of
    Christian Wulffen's installation at MOCA Cleveland's Ginn Gallery. It's also
    provocatively informal. The fence itself is propped against slimly rectangular
    cement blocks, as if it just might fall down.
    Elsewhere on the gallery wall, a narrow, four-foot long slat, painted black and
    looking at first glance like a painted stripe, on closer examination is seen to be
    nailed at each end with studied carelessness; the nails are hammered halfway
    into the wall, then bent and hammered flat. Similarly, a canvas is mounted with
    screws inserted in plain sight, painfully piercing the viewing surface of the
    work. In short, the devil is in the details at Christian Wulffen's exhibit It is, It is
    not, the latest in MOCA's ongoing Pulse series, highlighting the work of artists
    living in the region.
    Or maybe, echoing that Hamlet-like title, the devil is not in the details. The
    question for Wulffen's art isn't whether or how to be, but how to interrupt the
    process of aesthetic projection that philosophers term "sensible cognition,"
    separating mental and physical phenomena and sensations. His is a show of
    rectangles, for their own sake and at the same time as a theme in a life - his
    own, but also everyone's. It is, It is not refuses to fine-tune its presentation,
    calling to our attention the fact that pure forms like rectangles exist in the mind
    but not in Home Depot or in art galleries - not even in the paintings of late
    modernism's foundational artist and theorist Josef Albers, who Wulffen invokes
    in some of his work here. All human beings are surrounded by simple and
    complex constructions that use right angles, many of which are included either
    physically or pictorially in Wulffen's installation, as part of a 17-foot "billboard"
    color photograph, showing the contents of a hallway in the artist's apartment.
    Books, magazines, newspapers, paintings, buildings and most of the rooms in
    them are rectangular - though not, as it happens, the elusive shape of the
    gallery in which Wulffen's show is installed, with its gently curving long glass
    Wulffen, who received his MFA from the State Academy of Fine Arts in
    Stuttgart, Germany, has been an associate professor at the Cleveland Institute
    of Art since 2003. He has long been inspired by Theo van Doesburg, the
    Dutch artist who was one of the founders of the influential de Stijl group and
    went on to initiate "L'art concret" movement in 1929-30. It is, It is not is an
    exercise in L'art concret's philosophical/visual project, suggesting the
    underlying identity of formal conception and worldly phenomena. Form is
    simply form, clipped plainly to transformation at every point, always identical to
    life and always peeling away toward eternity.
douglas max utter