Daily Telegraph February 9, 1983.
The startling Mr Sartorius
ART is quite suddenly moving in the direction of philosophy again. Artists are asking us to redefine our attitude to seeing. One of them, a German, Malte Sartorius, is playing a preeminent role in this trend.
His one-man show ac the Goethe , 50. Princes Gate. South Kensington, until Feb. 23 (and later to be in Belfast, York, and Glasgow) is one of the most startling exhibitions in London in recent years. It is also challenging.
It is no exaggeration to say that in future we will find ourselves using Sartorius's work as a yardstick against which to judge a trend in the arts. Nor is this simply a movement in painting, drawing, and the graphic arts. His work has implications extending to all the arts.
Malte Sartorius has is a realist of extra ordinary accomplishment. On coming through the door at the Goethe Institute, and seeing an enormous drawing, “San Vincente V.” we are momentarily taken aback We did not realise we were coming to a photographic exhibition. We were not of course. It is in fact a pencil drawing.
What Sartoriu.s is doing is prompting turgid apologies of the sort familiar from the years when every hack struggled to lend respectability to each excess of abstract art. His drawings and etchings, which make up this exhibition, deserve more serious exhibition.
He draws an area of stony ground running up to those sordid semi-high-rise buildings that today deface almost every city; a typical Spanish village; a quintessentially Italian corner of Tuscany; or in his prints he studies everyday objects: chairs, utensils or plants. Photographs have been used, and the realism is remorseless.
Yet the aim differs radically from that of those realists who simply hold up a mirror, and is even further removed from those, who use illusionism to make a point. With Malte Sartorius we. find ourselves calling in question much we take for granted
He makes us realise that each image we register, whether it is vide-ranging as in a landscape, or concentrated upon a few objects, is not only composed but is based upon a series of tacit assumptions. Malte Sartorius questions all those accepted attitudes that determine our reaction to what we see, or imagine we are viewing.