An attempt to write about Frauke Seemann's art
Frauke Seemann asked me to write something about her pictures and gave me a couple of photographs of some of her more recent works. Once home, I looked at the photos with curiousity. They were of paintings and works on paper from the years 1997 and 1998. Some of them I was already familiar with; others I was seeing for the first time.
Then I discovered two smaller works on paper from the years 1997 and 1998 which I had never seen before and which I found grabbing. The titles of the works: "Eve is starting to get angry" and "Eve is angry."
What is Eve getting angry about? Why am I so interested in Eve's getting angry, when Frauke Seemann's other works have more to do with "A Pleasure for the Senses" and a "Feast for Life," as she herself describes them. When "Eve starts to get angry", red patches of color gather in the background of the work. Towards the middle, the title of the painting is painted in white cursive writing which is almost illegible. Both of these layers are kept from moving forward by a blue "grid" at the forefront.
In the work "Eve is angry," there is likewise an allusion to a multi-colored grid in the foreground. Yet in this work, the grid is disconnected through a yellow square which seems to move to the forefront. In front of that, clearly legible in blue lettering, are the words: "Eve is angry".
How is Eve's getting angry connected to the painter's other works?
To answer that question, I first want to take a look again at Frauke Seemann's style of painting.
In all of her works, I see traces-bits and pieces-of texts she extracted from her journal entries, as she herself once told me. In addition to that, I see the typical Seemann style of painting I'm already familiar with-dynamic patches of color and repeating characters and figures in overlapping ensemble. The pictures have the same affect on me as they normally do: they seem expressive and powerful.
The painter treats the "things" in her work equally; there is no hierarchy among the elements in the pictures. Another thing that recurs in them is the extracted nature of their motifs. The pictures seem to be parts of a larger context, as though Frauke Seemann gets up close to things in order to better perceive them.
What strikes me is the surface character of the pictures; they do not contain traditional perspectives or three-dimensionalism. Surfaces exist in the pictures that seem to overlap, penetrate each other, and interact with one other. As someone viewing the works, this style of painting enables me to perceive the "space of the picture" in an unusual way, namely, without perspective and multi-dimensionally. In this way, I can perceive different spaces simultaneously.
Various motifs appear in the pictures: spirals, meandering curves, intimated grid-like structures. And bits and pieces of the subjective experience of everyday life recur in them as well.
Figurative elements are rarely depicted; the pictures appear as ornamental, colorfully patterned constructions, yet without appearing abstract. They have an atmospheric, poetic power to them Most of the works have been painted in bright colors and wide brush strokes; some of them seem playfully childlike to me, yet they still exude maturity.
I have the impression that Frauke Seemann is continually searching for ways of hanging onto the subjectively experienced present-the "now"-in her work. But this endeavor has more to do with simply capturing the moment: the "here space" of now-time seems like an invisible, multi-layered text which is noted down and then processed or reworked by the artist. In this way, invisible, illegible textures evolve and brighten up the in-between spaces in her works.
Here I mean the in-between spaces which result from the distinct structures of the figures, the patches of color and the motifs.
This is about opening up to "living within" a sensual present in which different things happen simultaneously. And the present is connected to creative power, is filled with that which is alive, with vitality.
I also know now why "Eve" is starting to get angry (or already is).
In the traditional, patriarchal perception of the world, the "objective logos" is predominant-in other words, the objective, written word about matter and sensuality. Likewise, the Old Testament states: "In the beginning was the Word." Which word is implied here is pretty clear: the "Divine" Word of the patriarchal God creator who reigns over the world.
Contrary to the contemporary (yet still patriarchal) discourse on sign systems, what is at issue in Frauke Seemann's work is a sign system that is directly connected to sensuality and the pictures. A language which stems from feeling, from the body, and which opens up new spaces. Frauke Seemann is able to arrange the "things" in her pictures in such a way that, in their constellation, the present seems to suddenly 'flash through' as sensually perceptible.
In Frauke Seemann's pictures, "Eve" recaptures her wisdom and her knowledge of the interconnection of things.
Karin Schlechter, Cologne, 2000 (catalogue "Inhabited Moments")
Translation: Louisa Schaefer, Cologne