Josef Zekoff’s paintings occupy a shimmering interstitial space. They seem like hybrids of ornaments, maps and stick figures. They are probably easiest to identify by the labyrinth symbol, but this is a keyword that only increases the open questions. The term has long separated from its origins; it is said to have been coined for an early urban settlement built of stone, probably on Crete, which was novel and unusual for its time. But the greater part of its history connotes a puzzle or mystery, a complex in which every visitor loses their orientation, maybe never to find the exit.
These paintings retain that fascination with unsettling perplexity. On the wall, they provide no clear information about their meaning. Symbol, figure, plan, impression or draft—none of these meanings are precluded and none alone would be exhaustive. The overview adds another perspective, their effect within an exhibition, as well as newest findings, such as that the human brain also is composed of such ramifications, in which thoughts seek certainty like visitors of memories, while they imperceptibly take on a new shape, becoming messages that no-one understands yet.
Walking is known to help with thinking; how seeing helps thoughts is far less clear. That is where Josef Zekoff draws the viewer. He seduces the eye to wander, and he stops it like a traffic signal, he offers a hint of clarity and simple forms, repetition and reduction, but then the feasability of a direct interpretation is again thwarted. What time are we in? In the sphere of archeology or on another planet? Could the painting be used, do its lines teach? These displacements in depth and in space, on the surface of the material and behind the symbolic belong to the complex in which he finds his images.
Text by Roberto Ohrt 2018: on Josef Zekoff’s solo show at Sunday-S gallery