Colors find their Space | Gisela Götte

Clemens-Sels-Museum Neuss, 2007 | Translation by Victoria Bell

Since the 1980’s the Clemens-Sels Museum has been acquiring paintings and works on paper in which color has become the central issue of pictorial quality. The new and pivotal works in this, the Neuss collection of art from the 19th – 20th century to the present, include the works of Rupprecht Geiger, Dieter Villinger, Marcia Hafif, Ulrich Erben, Hermann de Vries, Jürgen Paatz, Phil Sims, Helmut Dirnaichner, Bernd Minnich, Michael Rögler, Tomoharu Murakami, Nabuko Sugai, Markus Linnenbrink, Katharina Grosse and others.

Conceptual painting with color is not recognizably bound to any one terminology. A wide variety of ideas serve as approaches to try and interpret the variety of content evident in the work; radical painting, contemplative painting, analytical painting, paintings of refusal, or imageless paintings are some of the descriptions that have afforded the perception of a new sense of color. The artists that have subscribed to this painting do not form any group the way the Impressionists or Luminists did, but only have their focus on color as such as the central issue in common. The conceptual independence of the different positions demand of the observer an emotional openness to the experience of the feeling of color and its organization in the painting. Ines Hock’s room installation brings to these a third requirement; the perception of the relation of color to the wall and to the space, which is continually creating a new understanding, even if only temporary, of its existing interior architecture.

For the foyer of the Clemens-Sels Museum Ines Hock has created a 12-piece work, that enters it as a horizontal band of color, broken in 3 places, binding itself indissolubly to the architecture. The entry area of the new building, designed by Harald Deilmann in the mid-1960’s but not completed until 1975 is nearly 5 meters high. A wide staircase leading to the exhibition spaces of the 2nd and 3rd floors opens out as a changing space and place of interaction for the visitors in the reception area. The walls of white exposed concrete are not uninterrupted but discontinuous. A wide wall piece standing in front of a wall of windows from floor to ceiling juts out as a free-standing block connected with the ceiling. A narrower piece sets a boundary for the height of the eye of the stairwell and connects the 3 floors. The indirect incident light and the paneled ceiling, appearing weighty despite its height lend a cavernous aspect to the entryway.

Taking into account this existing space and its lighting, Ines Hock creates chromatically varying color panels, that, like a frieze, cover the upper zone of the walls with painting as a vessel of light. The highly original hanging of the easel paintings up against each other letting in light like colored windows, draws the eye of the viewer upward as in the space of a gothic cathedral. Although the boundaries of the original contiguous fields remain as shadowed edges, the setting is like the flow of a wide river. The colors wander, come to a halt within, and start off anew in the next wall piece. Still these pauses, or gaps, as they develop this way in one’s perception can easily be jumped over, depending on the changing standpoint of the viewer in motion. As the room is given form by the color, the body and weight of its concrete architecture attains an unusual lightness, but without losing its essential character. The foyer is transformed into a colored interior space, gay, and full of light, in which the painting, while giving form to the wall, can still be experienced for itself as a free and independent work. The open structure of the brush strokes extending to the sides and leading upward, the glowing color tracks varying in their directions, their brightness giving a feeling of transparency, all cause the space to vibrate. The colors become painted light, and give the architecture a new spiritual meaning. The painting and its installation manipulates the visual impression of the room and changes the atmosphere from the original dark mood to one of glowing and varied color.

As the artist individualizes the space of the foyer, every viewer gains his own subjective perception of it and has opens up for a new capacity for experience. The entryway as a place to linger and as a path becomes a new space to live in. The interactions with others that happen here are certainly different than they were before.