Elisabeth Brockmann: The Glowing Canvas

Two works by the Duesseldorf artist Elisabeth Brockmann belong to the permanent collection of the MAKK _ Museum für Angewandte Kunst. Two years ago _ 2016 _ she completed two light boxes that refer to objects from the collection and were permanently integrated into the museum’s architecture. One of them marks the entrance to the design collection and the other one can be found in the café. In addition, two works can now be seen in the entrance area, a landscape format [130 x 200 x 11 cm] and a column with a lightbox [277 x 30 x 16 cm]. They are a kind of introduction to the main exhibition space. Both are photographic works with reference to natural phenomena such as air and sky, clouds and water. As with all works in this exhibition, these are digital photomontages. Elisabeth Brockmann collects her impressions not only in natural and cultural setting but also in her studio. There she experiments as in an alchemical laboratory with material and form, space and light, scaling and perspective. With the camera, she follows these analog improvisations and generates her source material, which she processes on the screen. Already the first works of the current exhibition show that Elisabeth Brockmann’s compositions are distinguished by selected color spaces, intense colorfulness, and high contrasts. In the current exhibition, it shows a series of new works.

Five large-format photographs are mounted on three of the four walls of the main exhibition space, and 21 photographs are positioned freely in the room in lightboxes on dark steles. In preparation for the exhibition, she had discovered an arsenal of empty showcases in the museum’s storage, which became the material for her new installation. She takes the transparency away from the showcases by covering them with a dark textile. With an LED floodlight inside, the showcases become lightboxes. The textile also functions as a canvas for the photographic prints of two series. One shows variations of luminous vehicle spotlights and their contexts, the other variations on a plexiglass cube and its interaction with changing environments and materials. In her artistic revision, they become pictorial works without narratives.

The wall works range in size from 150 x 180 cm to 200 x 300 cm and are illuminated in such a way that they appear as luminous color tableaux. For this purpose, Elisabeth Brockmann uses a thermal color printing process, which enables her to achieve a particularly high degree of color saturation and color depth. The significant density of the color pigments reflects light without light reflections “_ she explains the choice of material and technology.

She has darkened the current exhibition space and choreographed her works into space as luminous screens. Visitors can stroll between the steles and approach the individual works from different angles and visual contexts. The grounds for the cinematographic momentum in her work was laid immediately after her studies in Paris. After completing her studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1981 she received a scholarship and traveled to Paris. Instead of working on the easel in the studio, she went to the cinema and began to deal with photography, film, and projection. For half a year I sat in this beautiful large, bright and warm studio with a view of the Seine and did not touch a brush. The easel was my clothes rack. Instead, I went to the cinema from noon to night – in series, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Marlon Brando and what the stars were called. And then there were these bookstores where you could buy the films, scene by scene, in book form, a kind of flipbook for cineasts. That’s where I found my topic. I photographed the pictures, enlarged them, took photos of me in the appropriate poses and mounted myself in the place of Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall and so on. At that time, photomontage was still done with nail scissors and glue. I photographed the whole thing again and blew it up to movie poster size.” _ describes Elisabeth Brockmann this time in an interview with Martin von Wiesenbach. The luminous canvas has become one of Elisabeth Brockmann’s distinguishing features _ whether as an exhibition object as in the MAKK or as an architectural intervention as in the Bavarian State Theater Munich [2000], at the Albertinum in Dresden [since 2002] or in the city of Friedberg [since 2016]. As an object, as a window picture or as an architectural element, they formally integrate into the built space, transforming familiar views of space or the city with their luminosity and pictorial power.

Brockmann lives and works in a studio in downtown Düsseldorf. She is very concrete in her artistic way of working. She experiments and improvises with material, light, and space until the subject of the picture detaches itself from its production context and becomes independent. This type of “found objects” is subjected to several weeks of repeated observations and adaptations in which the work of art has to prove its worth in the eyes of the author. In an interview with journalist Thilo Wydra, she explained that the balance between calculation and emotionality is one of the parameters of good art. Her way of working is also characterized by a complex process of experimenting and improvising, collecting and sorting, reviewing and editing. “Freedom, Space, and Light” is the title of the exhibition, which can be seen until April 8, 2018 at the MAKK and also during COLLUMINA’s opening hours from 22 to 24 March 2018 from 6.00 pm to Midnight. “In addition to my works, the exhibition title is a kind of additional impuls for the exhibition” _ said Elisabeth Brockmann in the artist’s talk on March 1,2018. “I don’t want to give guidelines or ways of seeing, but I am happy when the visitors are encouraged to see and speculate.”

[Text: Bettina Pelz. March 5, 2018]

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