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Hanspeter Krellmann. Art as light from within.

Comments on Gerti Wimmers composizione con la terra


"There is so much to be said and so little time to say it". This sigh from the heart, which the French poet Julien Green recorded in his diary on 22nd July 1985, could have been written by Gerti Wimmer- La Frascetta, for whom the days, months and years are also all too short. She is continually searching for new ways of expressing herself -and this quest takes place in a somewhat limited physical realm. For a number of years now she has no longer been content with painting alone, but integrates commonplace materials and objects into her pictures. She subjects these substances taken from the environment to an artistic metamorphosis based on varying and extremely specialised techniques. To achieve this Gerti Wimmer designs pictures in which physical elements are incorporated onto the surface in a similar way to a collage. Thus the two-dimensionality of the painted panel picture is given a corporeal aspect as a three-dimensional element. Consequently the artist correctly refers to her work as picture sculptures.
This technique can be studied in her Volcano series, created over the last few years. Through this work she has been increasingly successful in overcoming the natural features of the materials used (sand, wood, stones, metallic components, rope, net etc.) and in conferring them with a certain metaphysical dimension for expression.
Gerti Wimmer´s soil pictures, named "Composizione con la terra" by the artist, are based on a modified production procedure as well as on a new creative philosophy. For this type of picture Gerti Wimmer works with two canvases arranged one on top of the other. First, one picture is completed in colour and structure. Subsequently a second, unbleached canvas, which has been stretched onto a frame, is fixed onto the finished picture. In this way two pictorial planes lie on top of each other. Gerti Wimmer opens up the upper canvas, which has been left in unbleached condition, by making incisions through which parts of the picture beneath become visible. Subsequently she designs the complete area of the picture, partly by responding to the sections of the finished base picture which have been revealed, and partly by being able to fashion the complete area of the picture in accordance with her ideas. In this way the procedure involves both the creation of the upper picture and modifications to the base picture.
As the main material for the creation of the surface Gerti Wimmer uses various colours of drifting sand (hence the title of this series) from different geological epochs which she procures from exposed quarries. The natural colours of the sand applied to the canvas are changed, given subtile nuances and are thereby intensified in separate working processes. This is achieved, for example, by adding oxides in powder form which develop independently in an initial stage until the artist ends the oxidation process in accordance with her aesthetic ideas by fixing the areas with natural resins.
This type of soil picture can be viewed as the creative unification of two pictorial planes as the foundation of the work. Gerti Wimmer turned to soil pictures after gaining experience with the Volcano series. This shows a clear development in the properties of the materials in respect to both production techniques and expression-specific aspects, which in turn open up new expressive characteristics and quality . It is clear to Gerti Wimmer that these sculptural pictures (or three-dimensional pictorial objects) are to be defined ipso facto as non-material. The artist has never attempted to create an image of anything -at most they are embodiments, as Paul Klee said. Thus, especially with an awareness of the heavily popularised ritual of artistic appreciation, one may feel compelled to question what this art means, what it can tell us, what its message is. A possible answer i.e. that these art works mean nothing and everything at the same time, may sound cynical, as the person who has asked the question could feel rebuffed due to the perplexity which he has openly admitted. Gerti Wimmer´s own explanation of this (which has been designated as her creative philosophy) is based on her concept of revealing millions of years in one work of art. The artist furnishes diverse types of soil, which have been formed by basic natural forces, with significance by subjecting them to certain processes. The result is a work of art which combines both naturally occurring creative forces and human creative aspirations to bring about a conclusive result.
A somewhat more general explanation would be as follows -since the 1920s artists from all fields have been governed by the fundamental aspiration to be progressive and innovative. In other words art should never remain stationary , it must develop and renew itself from within. This is without doubt the task which is of the highest importance for all art forms. In the field of fine arts there have always been stylistic epochs which have exhausted the possibilities they had for conveying messages after flourishing for a relatively short time, and have therefore worn themselves out. The individual members of a particular artistic movement have two options, available to them when a final point such as this has been reached -either to stop working or to give in to the urge to duplicate and to perpetuate the standard which was once achieved. Faced with this situation only a few artists have managed to initiate and implement a new personal stylistic phase. Therefore most of them played no further part in the stylistic progression of their age and environment. Their future work was in danger of acquiring anachronistic tendencies.
Conversely, i.e. when artists want to force their expressive position onwards instead of wearing themselves out with self-quotations, a different danger could be concealed. In its nervous, hurried struggle for innovation (and success) art is sent down a path which usually accelerates rapidly. In this way it is exposed to a short life dictated by fashion -this has hung over many creative artists like the Sword of Damocles up until the present day. On the other hand the compulsion for continual progress effectively determines the artistic style of the individual. This rarely proves favourable for his/ her artistic quality .
Those artists (including Gerti Wimmer) who concentrate exclusively on the malleable base material appropriate to their artistic field are immune to these compulsive situations. For Gerti Wimmer it is true that the malleable raw materials which she has selected have, within themselves, a desire for expressive communication. Gerti Wimmer has drawn the consequences from the painter´ s traditionally limited range of materials -only being able to express oneself two-dimensionally. She revitalises apparently solidified matter and creates her own range of materials (which cannot be easily adopted by others). Naturally she checks this critically, object by object. The advantage of this is that it allows her to continually modify and refin the material she has selected. Investigating the material in such a persistent, driven manner gives Gerti Wimmer´ s works of art their inherent meaning. This does not operate in the sense of something which can be represented and which can be explained creatively, especially if pictorial objects are to act in accordance with tradition as conveyors of messages, the contents of which can be defined exactly. For Gerti Wimmer the materials used speak for themselves from within and in this way they set an autonomy of the significant in motion. In this way the statement that Gerti Wimmer´s pictorial objects can mean nothing and everything at the same time is explained.
Can it be concluded from this that Gerti Wimmer´s expressive perspective and the results generated from this are complicated?
Complicated pieces of art are rarely easy to comprehend, however simple works of art can also seldom be understood effortlessly. But what do the words ´simple´ and ´complicated´ mean? Simple does not mean basic and banal (even if the material used seems to serve today´s throw away mentality). And complicated does not automatically mean esoteric. Works of art which are difficult to understand do not automatically have to make excessive demands on the viewer´s understanding; rather they are able to communicate on a spontaneous emotional basis. (Gerti Wimmer´s works always do this.) And simple works of art, such as the naive painters, always at least possess the quality of surprise if they are successful. In a similar way to when the composer John Cage said "I have nothing to say and I am saying it".
Gerti Wimmer has a lot to say (as in actual fact Cage also did). Reading this from the material properties described presents a challenge. The beholder must prove that he/ she is equal to the task by relating the expression in the art work to his/ her own individual consciousness. Gerti Wimmer´s art demands this -it is justifiable and is befitting to its quality .She is, to use a metaphor from the poet Wolfgang Koeppen, like a light within, she dispenses with a representation of a location and of the historical hour which is recognisable by everyone.