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Elisabeth Vary | Colour - Objects












On February 24th, Galerie m Bochum will open the exhibition “Color – Objects,” featuring current works by Elisabeth Vary (b. 1940). The Cologne artist has been represented by the gallery since 1989 and this is her sixth solo show here.

For the past several years, Vary has been exploring in her work the boundaries of painting, object, sculpture and space. Her painterly wall objects begin with a concrete idea for a body in space, which the artist first captures in a drawing to be used as her template. Once the object has been constructed out of cardboard, color comes into play, for Vary’s fundamental assumption is that color itself has its own body, defined not only by the particular shade but also by the transparency or density of the oil, varnish or pigments. The artist creates a relationship between these color bodies and the vehicles that carry them: the actual picture objects with their variform shapes. The viewer can then study the deliberately contrarian paint application on these formations that protrude into space, discerning multiple overlapping layers, some translucent and shiny, others opaque and dull.

Contemplating the objects from different perspectives reveals how each of their surfaces is of equal importance and how they mutually refer to one another. Vertical rivulets of paint might for example run down on one side, while on the other defined brushstrokes structure the surface. The volume of the color body thus varies depending on the application mode, texture and surface properties of the paint, striking up a dialogue with the body of the image carrier. This dialectical relationship is even more evident in the two-part works, where, for example, light and dark colors confront one another, or a flat dark blue is answered by intricate multicolored patterns.

The surrounding space and the wall surfaces between the two parts of each work, which are positioned in an unstable balance to one another, also become an integral part of the whole; the distances between the parts and their profiles are coordinated in such a way as to create common horizon lines or image axes, or in other cases to take off in opposite directions.

Elisabeth Vary’s most recent pieces as well operate like small, self-contained organisms, rife with contradictions and eager to engage concretely with the basic tenets of painting and sculpture. Like picture puzzles, they vividly illustrate the interaction of space, work and viewer, deconstructing with their dialogical tension those fundamental categories of pictorial thinking. And yet, this deconstruction process evokes almost ingenuous – and infectious – curiosity and joy.