“What particular achievement is painting capable of compared to other mediums and what are its original expressive values? Christa Bartesch’s painting certainly answers these questions. Boundaries and transitions form her possibilities of expression, this kind of painting relies entirely on the expressive values of colour. Bartesch’s paintings are created by applying the oil paint on the canvas in layers with a brush. Colour is sometimes displayed by wide brushstrokes of subtle swing, followed by brisk ones or an almost impressionistic dot painting technique, which transforms the substrate of the picture – in this case, the canvas – into a kind of energy field, on the moving surface of which the dynamic processes of image formation take place. The surface of the picture is characterized by vivid translucency, which ensures that its layered structure becomes visible and traces of previous processes come to its surface as partially obscured memories of earlier phases of the image’s formation. Vibrant veils of colour are placed through broad trajectories on the cloudy-atmospheric colour haze. The pictures seem to glow by themselves. A particular energy flows from their coloured surfaces, which appears as the painting’s own light. The virtuoso play of translucency and condensation gives rise to bold formal references in the image field, which take shape the more we follow the call of this kind of painting as spectators, to delve into the immeasurable depths of the space of colours with our vision. From the interplay of the straight material frame of the picture and the bold fixation of inner forms, this kind of painting creates such a peculiar moment of tension when calmness and movement come into a perfectly balanced relationship with each other. The concentrated forms of visibility arise merely from colour and the act of painting, and much less from rational considerations made in advance. The contour and shape of the internal forms refer directly to the regular dimensions of the body of the image. Sometimes the picturesquely created ambivalence of space and plane gives the impression of a window that lets our gaze into an imaginary pictorial space which is open to infinity, surrounded by frame-like colour trajectories. In the case of other pictures, the bottom layer of colour appears to be obscured by mostly cloud-like spots of colours, a vivid yellow spot hovering over a grey surface, with bright glowing inner zones turning our gaze to a particularly accentuated area of the picture. The colour sometimes collides directly with the edges of the canvas, which inadvertently leads to the viewer being captivated by the movement tendencies arising from the colour, continuing them mentally beyond the actual edges of the picture. Christa Bartesch’s painting consciously balances between the boundaries of showing and hiding, her paintings are real works of vision that make space and plane, near and far, calmness and movement experienceable through the process of vision. In this way, this kind of painting is constantly reborn through the act of vision, through the activation of our perception, initiating an endless cycle that renders the most important foundations of our human existence into a conscious experience.’
Dr. Uwe Schramm, Kunstverein Münsterland
“Christa Bartesch works with pure visuality, the purest artistic tool possible. In her paintings she avoids anecdotal narration and uses exclusively the clearest toolkit of fine art, creating according to her principles, namely the inexhaustible possibilities of colour and form. Christa Bartesch explores the mathematical essence of expression, the simplest formula that is irreducible. The authenticity of proportions and the colours relation are connected to each other in a complex way just like the components of chemical bonds. Even the smallest changes jeopardize the identity of the substance.”
Prof. Károly Klimó, Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest
“Out of the countless trends in monochrome painting, Christa Bartesch is the representative of a less radical one. She works in a fictive space, that is, she creates a fictive space in the picture that serves above all to define colour and plane. Her principle is to allow colour to prevail… In her painting the monochrome image does not appear as a materially given basic form, but as a pulsating, optically intensified colour, nor does her painting strive for absolute nature or enchanted immateriality. Its aim is the presence of a single colour that unfolds in front of our eyes, in which the objective definition of colour substance forms a unity with the subjective, emotional content of the colour experience. Successive repainting keeps the colours previously there still visible, but removed just like the layers of memory. A tension is created between the description and the appearance, which creates a specific content. I believe that the message and the content of her pictures cannot be found through the stringency of black-and-white philosophy; rather, these are created in the process of penetrating the picture plane."
Dr. Júlia Fabényi, Director of Ludwig Museum Budapest
CHRISTA BARTESCH: AUSFALLERSCHEINUNGEN
Kurfürstliches Gärtnerhaus, Bonn
What does someone committed to painting commit to? What are the possibilities of the world of colours, what can we see through the paintings or what do they hide from us, what are the truths of painting or (paraphrasing Sigmar Polke) what are its lies? Is painting mimicry or self-representation, paint stain or visualization, a painted thought, a painted world or a painted painting?
The recent works of Christa Bartesch give answers to these questions surrounding the particular medium of painting, with an accentuated and familiar reduction from the very first moment. The paintings (all oil on canvas) belong entirely to the modern tradition of objectless painting, each titled “Untitled” and undoubtedly stemming from decades of the rational artistic practice of colour analysis.
Thus, the educated eye is both a purpose and a prerequisite when it comes to examining the world of colours and making the interplay of minimally different shades of colour into a theme. In particular, the exhibition presents the tension that arises when the boundaries of paint stains meet, overlap or merge into each other. According to the metaphoric title of the exhibition borrowed from neurology, Christa Bartesch perceives painting as a subtle, self-layering, regulated and veil-like colour structure, as an immersion in meditative material, from which the pictorial energy also feeds. The artworks therefore suggest that we parenthesise the outside world. However, with the possibilities of the ‘seeing eye’, Christa Bartesch’s paintings also demonstrate that these parentheses never work perfectly: strong vertical lines scrape through the cloudy shapes as if we were looking at them through a curtain of tears. The ‘phenomena of loss’ are thus moments that are associated with optical and visual liminal experiences.
Dr. Krisztián Kukla, Art director of art quarter budapest