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Aestethics or a Theology of Suddenness ?​

Is it true that these paintings have no titles? In fact,most of them bear nothing more but sparse numbers and letters. But in the studio there is one leaning against the wall which states »Rot liebt Blau« (Red loves Blue) on its back. More of a spontaneous idea? An exception to the rule? Whatever it is, no title could be a more apt description of Ingeborg zu Schleswig-Holsteins paintings of recent years. Surely, red also loves yellow and orange and is making big come-on moves towards a violet toned down with white, which in turns makes tender moves or stirs up cold fire towards blue. Still, red and blue remain the dominating contrasts - their love is also apparent in the strong emotionalism which Ingeborg zu Schleswig-Holstein intensifies in both colors. Radiant jubilation emanates from red to yellow which is toned down from blue towards violet although it never loses its radiance. High fanfares of red-yellow gestures are drowning out the calmer blue. A chord triggering moods and emotions.

Over recent years, the art of Ingeborg zu Schleswig-Holstein has become more collected, concentrated, and homogeneous. Tumultuous colors of unwieldy shreds of red slits slide across the canvas, awakening globs of green and, having calmed down, washing over gold. A complementary spectral wealth of color and the furious agitation over darknesses are in retreat. The palette is now more neighborly inclined, tighter, and acting in shorter jumps. The coloration thrives less on contrast than on derivation. Correspondingly, the color stream is easier and smoother. Colors are not on opposite ends fighting each other but are emanating from each other. The harshness of colored borders has become less rigid and more relaxed without losing any of its radiance. Of late, the energy entrusts itself to limited colors.

Most of all: gold and geometry the traditional symbols for the absolute,eternity,metaphysics - have all but vanished. In 1990,Veit Loers was able to make a sweeping statement explaining that »the ratio between colored spaces to geometric ones from leaf gold is identical to that of this world and the next, of emtion and spirituality, of spontaneity and law, of time and eternity.« More recent paintings do without gold and geometry. Where before there had been golden triangles opposing the turbulent flood of bright colors, there are now growing floral or stellar outlines out of the ground, and blossoms or exploding stars to be found. Whenever metaphysical worlds are involved, then no longer on a seemingly superficial scale but aided by decipherable traditions.

Red and blue are also the colors of the dress of the Madonna. Schongauer, Dürer, Grünewald have inscribed this color choice indelibly and with fire into our optical memory. Is that the reason for the unmistakeably sacral effect of the paintings, although they lack legible symbolism? Or is the renunciation of conventional symbolism also a liberating act leading into pure painting? Drew Hammond takes exactly the opposite view and discovers the representation of »metaphysical reality« in, of all things, the abstract. The omnipresent hovering light, and the »transcendental lack of dimensions« of the space, become a »visible metaphor of God.« The images for theology and religion were adapted in a surprise coup. Indeed: Ingeborg zu Schleswig- Holstein has continually worked for ecclesiastical spaces and painted color series »Weg ins Licht« (Way Into the Light) and »Ruhe« (Rest) in gold.

Viewers who do not believe can view the paintings, especially those of recent years, differently. They are the expression of a color-sensualized temperament acting on the wings of the Moderne, an unabashedly colorized vital recourse to the elementary appeal of liberated color in flourished handwriting and extensive spreads. They are inspirations, in other words, ranging from Kandinsky s early abstractions via Robert Delaunay s color tempi to the expressive gestures of Willem de Kooning and the spiritual monochromes of Mark Rothko. This is an attitude which is not at all overlooking the built-in spirituality of the paintings, yet pointing less to metaphysical elevation and religious heigthening than to the »sensual moral effect« of Goethe s colors. Streaming red and flickering yellow have something festive about them which is jubilating loudly and edging very closely to us. Blue appears solemn, measured in its ceremonial attitude, and leading into depth. Red is pushing to the front of the line, blue is removing itself from the tumultuous scene. Party and celebration, proximity and distance are the basic moods of the new paintings: these are moods which reach out into the intellectual that Kandinsky spoke of and are convincing without a painted theology.

Adding to the values of mood and space are diverse tempi. Delaunay has based his sens giratoire upon them. Warm colors are faster than cold ones. The jump from red to yellow is intense but not far. It increases the movement in the painting. Deep blue is expanding slowly, the transition towards violet is propelled by red and develops medium speed. The painter plays effortlessly with effects like these. A yellow haphazardly brushed encompasses the setting of still open edged borders and bubbling splashes. Violet with much white in it masses the form slowly together, next to the splintering yellow. Ingeborg zu Schleswig-Holstein makes use of such affinities, mixes them, turns them deftly around. The paintings act in varying tempi including sheer impulsiveness. Wipers appear like lightning at the borders and burn up instantly. Comparisons ranging from shooting stars to sparks suggest themselves. Are these approaches to the aesthetics of suddenness? The aesthetics of duration is a given, something we read alongside dialectically.

Are we once more approaching an archetype of basic religious experience? Is it, sacral associations of red against blue aside, this harmony of both moment and duration which continues to open up religious vistas in new ways? An aspect of suddenness marking an existential dimension far away from the merely situative or even atmospherically impressionistic? Whoever wants to, may give this art a theological interpretation - though this is not a prerequisite. Because the sudden apparition of a moment doubles as a topos in modern intellectual thought, especially in philosophy and literature. As Nietzsche wrote in 1886: »there is a infinite amount of events occuring in this second of suddenness«. For Marcel Proust, duration and »completed time« were also transported to the stage of the present in one »moment«.

Rather, it is this train of thought which leads from the static triangle to the ec-static flash of the impulse from the painter s brush. For those who find paintings sufficient, they might discover an act of relaxation and sublimation set to arrive at painted handwriting, to a vitally decorative color chord which is as uncomplicated as it is complex. A language which is purely painting and not necessarily grounded in the religious. The fact that both interpretations are possible, creates the unexpected tension of those paintings.

Manfred Schneckenburger

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