cataloguetext to: "black molly, sliced belly", exhibitionhall of Germany 1998



Genealogy of the magic area - forwards and backwards
What, if the area on which painting has to take place turns into an overestimated four-sided figure, once and for all on which has always happend too much, on which everything has been painted, everything tried, everything succeeded and everything failed? What must possibly happen to such an all but harmless area, if all the pent up, passinate energy of a young painter is crammed onto it? A painter who regards himself as being forced to let something become of this area out of his creative concentration - but definitly not a painting? In case of the works of Wolfgang May one can see how this concentrated energy is building up to a kind of attack on the area itself, on which in a way of reverse concupiscence the love to painting turns into an assassination of the high-handedness of the area. Instead of the area showing, or showing somthing, it is shown itself: its phantasmagical powers are being uncoverd by disclosing who or what the area really is. Lucio Fontana roughly tried the same by slashing open his canvasses, by „killing“ them in away, by means of literally destroying, negating and breaking through the character of the „area“ and here with disclosing the painting as only being a phantom. At the same time he contributed new aesthetic powers to the area, because he enriched it not only with the possibility to look through, but also with a plastic dimension, which starts to exist around the outside of the„wounds“which the area has lost originally. Wolfgang May chose different means for a maybe comparable artistic purpose. His „attack“ on the area at first doesen´t make use of cutting techniques or a thrust committing the cut-the surgical element follows in a second step. He chooses a mixture of pressure and explosion with which he treats the area. He demonstrates the „blown-upness“ of the canvas, its three-dimensional deformity into a belly, by quiet roughly reminding it with a very artifical material - Polyurethane foam - that its media powers have to be put in context to its only imaginable three-dimensionality. The complicated and very painstakingly prepared procedure, which takes only place in those few minutes in which the foam completes its expansion and hardening, transforms areas into “real phantoms“. His areas equipped with a thrust into the third dimension, in wich they present themselves with the support of a “fantastic“ growth of the foam in a simple but emphatic plasticity.The procedure can be compared to the geometric imagination of the mathematicians of the middle ages end the Renaissance, who tried to explain the order of the dimensions, to picture the riddle of one dimension evoking from another - dot/ line/ area/ body - as if the element becomes “fluid“ and thus develops into the next dimension. Also in Wolfgang May`s bellylike, blown-up canvasses the area started to flow, but not of the same shape, so that the four-sided area could have produced a rectangular solid. In his case the frame of the picture formed the rigid cover around a center curving underpressure. One could say in this case the third dimension was not really able to separate from the second one, the area on wich it stayed nailed down in the true sense of the meaning. Therefore the expedition into the third dimension- geometrically the dimension of the body-stays only an episode. After Wolfgang May raised the phantasmatic area to the third dimension of incarnate expansion, he takes it away again: He cuts the painting bellies, planes them in a way into thin slices “back“ to an area. The products of this procedure form bread-like slices, interspersed with holes of air which are held in the crust of the canvas sections. This way they show similarity to the slices into wich an executed murderer was cut and presented from the American Visible Human Project of 1996 for the purpose of digital portrayability. In fact with the discribed means Wolfgang May succeeds in a new anatomy of the painting wich is not only to be understood in a metaphorical way, but gives an exact medialogical description of the area of the painting itself. He shows how the magical area on wich paintings can appear acquires a further dimension in a ghostly way and then, charged with its acquisition, flattens and becomes, of course, an even more interesting area“ which can acclaim autonomy. In the case of Wolfgang May`s art this new autonomy can be realized in a self-willed, third dimensional after - life of the “belly-slices“ or the new area, which in an only lose contact is now thriumphing over gravity with no trouble at all.  
Elisabeth von Samsonow


"have a quiet thought on the pedestal problem" masterclass for sculpture/ Vienna 2000



photon arround us

People believed, among other things, that the imprint, wich Jesus Christ has supposedly left on the Shround of Turin, was caused by a photographic, or better said a phototypical procedure.This implies a form of EXPOSURE being the cause for this beautiful as well as mysterious portrait.The credibility of this assumptionis based on the suspicion that the corpse of resurrection was a body wich consisted of pure light, a form its inside thoroughly and completely beaming and gleaming body. Such a body is an absolute exception. Where as all others, or at least the usual bodies - according to the philosophers - have to be enlightened from the outside, since they are dark inside. Thus is the reason for exposing the body to the sun and for being among the most desired thingsin this world. In the name of sunbathing Sun- Pharaos and Sun - Kings have taken power upon themselves and whole population are brought to get into cars, trains, on ships and airplanes.The discovery that the longing for sunbathing is a huge economic factor has led to its simulation in a “dream - factory“- as it is done with all wonderful things: The solarium. In the solarium, the small technical sun system, in the pure temple of the Sun God, empty bodies can be charged upon again. With the insertion or a little coin of sacrifice the customer can cause a few thousand watts to beam down on him. An experiment of exposure with phosphorescent material shows indeed, how much sun was absorbed, since it does not go on glowing in the area where the body laid.The shadow of the mortal body on a pedestal therefore comes into existence in a phototypical way: through light and through the body covering an area with his form and weight-but as the “reversed wonder“ of the Shroud of Turin, wich is through the swallowing and absorbing of light.This is just the opposite  of the process of an emission similar to an x-ray.The observers are deeply stirred because they might suspect that what George Bataille had described happend there:The sun has given a never ending gift to mankind, wich can never be returned, since humans are designed to search the sun and leave shadows behind.The magic trace of the shadows is created as a sort of “ gift on the side “ of the warming and very enjoyable radiation of mankind. Elisabeth von Samsonow


to: "a moment before a black square" masterclass for sulpture/ Vienna 1999



the bright light
Don´t we all love technical surfaces: The deep glow of 15 layers of burnt in lacquer, the extraterrestrial gleam of a turbine rotating with high revs, the dull silicon of the microchips and the iridescent transparence of filtering materials. Since modern times we understand technical beauty, aesthetic and usefullness in wich sensual phenomenon are mixed with rationality of purpose. Something can be beautiful even without being primarily designed to be aesthetic. We know about its use, and with our habit of transferring convenience there are many ways from practical to beautiful. It is not a pleasure without interest in the negation of practicability, but more an interest in practical convenience.
What can be done, will be done.
But technique has also its dark side and seems to be frightening with its power and overwhelm every once in a while. But even that element of danger can be turned into a pleasurable shudder, and since the romantic age we play about with fire more and more in the area of painting and test the sensual potential of disasters: but there is something left: To hold the finger in fire maybe once and being devoured while jumping from the Eiffel tower.The pull into the abyss, wich can be experienced with the help of a manmade monument, is proportional to the boldness of its construction
Where is
We look at courses of forces in two-dimensional pieces of art, we talk about states of conflicts and balance and use our sensuosness forged by our material world for metaphors in order to describe structures of organization. Although simulation is getting closer to sensual experience  in a quite through way. Self-acting reality only occurs as a many fold mediated level of reference.
the thing placed.
Wolfgang May´s piece of art can be assigned to the tradition of radical abstraction, a movement leading into almost nothing; without structures of organization or any mimetic allusion, just pure area and color and material. Abstraction is also an achievment of the technical human being, wich develops his objects according to a catalogue of requirements. He does not reproduce but creates instead and is, at the same time, as mentioned above, very much attracted by surfaces.Next to his destiny as an abstract piece of art is the thing itself one single technical surface, too; a big spark plug, torn open by a strip of  phosphouros, he burns down with flames wich, similar to a wandering line, uncover an unknown text.
A brown square, a red square, a black square
We are reminded of Paulinchen in “Struwelpeter“ ( famous German children`s book )#
Reiner Zettl