The Magic of Imaginative Art

Gouaches, Collages, Applications

Medial

My first impression as I entered the artist’s studio was that of stepping into the magical realm of the Thousand and One Nights. What a wealth of richly associated compositions on decorative backgrounds – ornamental, floral, valuable – and what a spectrum of motifs and symbols. Ethnic and archaeological aspects: From Persia via Maghreb to Mexico and Peru. Stylistic relationships; reminiscent of tapestries, miniatures, palimpsest and thread pictures on the one hand and classic modern on the other.

In Europe the artistic encounter and confrontation with other cultures regarded as exotic began with Gauguin in the late 19th century and was integrated into Art by Picasso in the 20th century. He and many of his contemporaries and successors followed on this path in a differentiated and individual manner. On the literary level precursors had already established themselves: Rousseau, Lessing, Goethe. In the west-east divan, dialogue between the orient and the occident becomes a fruitful interplay of mutually complementary worlds. Since then, we have had to learn that “our world and its cultural inheritance does not represent the mass of all human creations”. (PeterMunro)

A considerable part of the oeuvres presented here represents another successful fusion of elements seeming very different in nature: Metaphors and scenarios from cultures in which myth and fairytales still continue to be an inexhaustible source for the imagination and inspiration, embedded in decorative landscapes. These backgrounds, in some cases given a naive appearance in a masterly manner, are more than just decoration and embellishment – they invite us to dream and inspire meditation.
Incorporated objects – idols and other ’trouvailles’ of pearls, glass beads, metal, wax and fabric give a three-dimensional quality to many of these pictures, making them ’conceivable’. Compared with other works of an earlier period shown to me – mostly non-representational, pixel or facet-like, occasional radiant surfaces in bright colours with infinite patterns – the obvious development could rather be called metamorphosis and refinement. Apart from an increased variety of creative means resulting in works more ornamental, material and figurative, it is essentially a shift to defined ensembles. With playful ease they are subject to a centering force. Multiple layers of colour, that are scraped off and reapplied, provide a pallet of nuances.

© E. Sturm Basel, November 2000