In his new show, Michael Fischer addresses, in both oil painting and color
photography, the problem of how to visually present ‘Geist’. This is no
easy undertaking. Ultimately, the success of his presentation depends
on our ability to intuit what cannot be shown.
What does ‘Geist’ mean? By naming his show with this deceptively simple
German word, Fischer invites the play of complex layers of meaning. ‘Geist’
sounds like the English word ‘ghost,’ but also means intellect, soul,
spirit, and wit. Human spirit and human intellect jostle (in our
imaginations) the ghosts we know from scary stories told at night,
just as those ghosts find themselves bumping into Hegel’s ‘Weltgeist,’
as well. So we find that ‘Geist’ is the kind of ‘simple’ word with
which philosophers struggle; yet in Michael Fischer’s work these
meanings act as translucent layers each augmenting the next to create
both depth and a surface glow.
By contrasting two media and their qualities, Fischer approaches the
difficulty of re-presenting in visual media what cannot be seen. The
paintings, self portraits in a series of Hatha Yoga positions, are
almost traditional in their realism. The transgression is his nudity.
The photographic self portraits, while also nudes are meditations on
the nature of abstraction.
The paintings explore a concentrated stillness in which the search
for inner peace can be inferred. The photographs observe simple
movements which are almost explicitly not a search for pure spirit
or pure spirituality but which somehow, by the very nature of
observed simplicity, free the spirit and make it visible.
While we search the paintings for the visual capture of a moment
of spiritualization, we see in the photographs spirit in the moment
The pleasure of this show lies in the contrast between the realism of the
paintings and the un- or other-than realism of the photographs.