Klaus Weber’s art works create ruptures with what we would call reality. In so doing they call our deepest belief systems into question. They provide an ironic counterpoint to the shared understanding – social, natural, scientific – that underpins our society. They also expose the maverick forces of nature that disrupt our own ability to control.
The natural world – and our changing view of what is natural – is a strong theme of the exhibition. The “natural” could also be regarded as the given – the underlying assumptions we all share. In the past it was thought society was shaped by just such a “natural” order. Perhaps it is not so different today.
As science progresses those beliefs are constantly destroyed and recreated, as is our view of ourselves within the universe – and society itself. Shape of the ape consists of kitsch copies of a 19th century sculpture of an ape squatting on a stack of books, contemplating a skull. It recalls the profound upheaval that followed Darwin’s theory of evolution, a discovery that placed man among the animals and refuted the divine idea of creation – a scientific advance that, to some religions, still remains contentious.
Sun Press (Against Nature) contains layers of allusion to the natural, and our idea of it. A heliostat on the roof concentrates the sun’s rays to print A Rebours (Against Nature) by JK Huysmans in the gallery below. The ultimate natural force is harnessed to slowly reveal a book that was explicitly a break with the 19th century Naturalist style of literature. Weber’s exhibition also questions the nature of art itself, as well as its place in an art gallery. Some of his works appear to have erupted from our building and are clearly visible from the streets outside. If you leave me I’m not coming, the work that gives the exhibition its title, turns our Weekday Cross window, our own window on the world, into a giant windscreen. Pouring rain obscures the view, while huge wipers work tirelessly to clear it. Weber’s bee paintings, which resemble abstract canvases, were actually made by bees themselves. Bees choose white surfaces to excrete on during their “cleansing flight” which follows winter hibernation. In this case they have obligingly decorated Weber’s blank canvases.
Up on the roof running man also plays on perception – and perhaps our tendency for preoccupied delusion. The sculpture echoes the classic cartoon caper of the man in a chase who runs blindly off a cliff. He remains insouciantly suspended, legs still pumping, until he realises his own predicament and suddenly plunges earthwards, succumbing to the inevitable forces of gravity.
Other works illustrate how our past beliefs still reverberate in the present. Giant wind chimes are tuned to the tritonic scale, reputedly banned in the Middle Ages as it was believed to summon the devil. Ironically the chords can still be heard in hell-raising heavy metal music today.