David Roth / BODYBUILDING / 25.05 - 12.07 / 2024



When Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked, why he still goes to the gym at the age of 74, he offered the following explanation: "For the same reason why I am having breakfast today - I had breakfast yesterday, I had breakfast ten years ago. Why am I still sleeping? I slept twenty years ago, I slept ten years ago, so I‘m still sleeping every night... It‘s the same with training. Training is a part of my life. It‘s that simple.".

The sight of a body allows us to guess much of its history, though at the same time it is merely a snapshot of its surfacing layers. Hidden underneath is a multitude of details ‘collected' from what the body has experienced since the day it was born. The first layers are only partially visible, or no longer visible at all, yet still part of this body's history. Unlike in human life, where the end is final, a work of art enters into a second, a new life, when the artist's work ends and it spreads it wings in an exhibition space.

In his current solo exhibition Bodybuilding, at Galería Alegría, David Roth shows three bodies of work completed in 2024.

In the main room (Room A) of the gallery, one encounters a herd of four-legged, colorful, voluminous bodies pregnant with painting(s). These sculptural objects called ‘Brains' are trestles - Roth built them from old stretcher frames - piled high with paintings. The ‘Brain's' body is formed by layers of painting material: canvasses and paintings cut from their frames, pieces of fabric Roth used as a palette, a rag to clean brushes, scraps of canvas to test the quality of certain colors, a section of a painting the artist cut out because it did not work composition-wise, plastic foil that served as a palette or to protect the floor, terry cloth towels used to clean paint pots or the studio floor. Some of the material was produced as part of ‘menial' preparatory or painterly tasks or generated as a by-product in the painting process. Albeit a form of painting that does not claim to be painting in the process of creation, which provokes a painterly freedom and lightness, difficult or even impossible to achieve consciously. Layer upon layer on different trestles from different painting projects from entirely different periods of time and work.

In Galería Alegría‘s Room B, Roth shows a group of new small paintings of an ongoing series, he named ‘Painting Painting' paintings. These ‘Painting (verb) Painting (noun)' paintings are created by over-painting again and again over a long period of time. A canvas which became a palette, now becomes a painting - and the painting turns palette again in a rhythm going on for years and years. Usually, after each painted layer, weeks, sometimes months go by, until the surface of the oil paint has dried and the next layer can follow. Over the years, color accumulates on the canvas in an almost sculptural manner, sometimes even extending beyond the edges. It is a playful and spontaneous approach to painting. Ultimately, art history makes its voice heard anyway and painterly vocabularies from different periods, movements and genres meet, that may never have had any temporal or formal relationship.

As a ‘hidden track', Galería Alegría also opens the ‘showroom' for David Roth‘s exhibition to present a series of framed small watercolor works on cut-out book pages. These pages originate from a 1980s bodybuilding training book, where physical exercises are illustrated with photographic templates. Roth made simple painterly interventions in the form of added oval areas of color to add another layer to the photographs, which appear unclassifiable and bizarre by nature. For David Roth, palettes and sampling colors have always been an essential, absolute part of painting. Through a ‘touch' of color, with a seemingly banal painterly gesture, these photographic findings are changed instantly.