A Cloud, a Family House and a River Stone

With the following artist:
Gabriele Herzog, Luisa Ramires and Tobias Wenzel.

text by Madalena Pequito,

On a Thursday afternoon, a friend of mine came to visit me at the Ainori art gallery. We were talking about our favourite paintings and she mentioned something that stuck in my mind. She said "sometimes a shape and a colour can be a medium for a message to be spread, even if we don’t know initially what the message is." I found it very poetic, so I stopped our conversation to write this down because I didn’t want the message to be lost. It is like this message that she mentioned has its own life and can travel within art objects, people, and spaces unintentionally. It is like these shapes and colours carry proofs of life, even in inanimate things, such as natural phenomena or something as small as a river stone.

I was thinking about this message when looking at Gabriele Herzog’s paintings. You can feel an enormous lightness when observing the loose and spontaneous strokes of colour on the raw canvas. I can almost imagine Gabriele in her studio in Berlin moving her arms in the sound of the texture of the oil pastels, falling apart unevenly on the canvas surface. I could almost hear the sounds that these movements created. The colours mix and overlap, creating compositions as harmonious as natural phenomena. We don’t know where these images are taking us, but it is better like this because in that brief moment we learned how to appreciate the beauty of the uncertain and undefined. There is a balance in the images that we look at. “Slowly, the various arts become capable of transmitting what is proper to them, and through the means that each of them uniquely possesses.” (Kandinsky, W., 1987. Do espiritual na arte. 6th ed. Lisboa: Publicações Dom Quixote, p.49.) Indeed, when observed, the colours and shapes combined in Gabriele’s paintings carry a message that can travel through matter and the negative, intentionally or unintentionally.

Just like in Gabriele’s paintings, Tobias Wenzel’s objects also play with the positive and the negative. Drops of color add to a white piece of paper crating shapes that are familiar to us, even though we can’t really name or identify them. On the other hand, a piece of styrodur* is subtracted until it reaches a new shape. This same shape seems inhabitable and contains in itself countless interpretations. It is like observing a family house from the outside, knowing many lives occupy that empty space, but never knowing or even trying to discover the stories of those lives. If Tobias’ objects were a house, its shape would always be different, and it would seek to stay like such. While I was observing these objects I got lost in this game between the negative and the positive, the object and the space surrounding it, the colour and its absence. I started imagining the possible meanings, messages, and stories that could live inside these solid objects. There is this human need to assign a meaning to every shape we observe, maybe to justify its existence, as if our existence needed justification. Does it? After all, the novelty and the fullness of these forms give them enough identity to live without justification.

The novelty and the fullness of these forms are exactly what drives Luisa Ramires when she is walking on the street. Whether in an urban or rural environment, Luisa always pays attention to every little detail and object of the landscape. These objects remind us that we live on this planet. On a stroll, alongside the river, she found a stone. On one of the sides of the stone, equidistant triangles were sculpted. There it was, out of nowhere, a stone that had engraved in itself a piece of unknown history - a message. Later, in her studio, Luisa challenges the limits between figuration and abstraction, between the digital and the natural world. She uses the screenprinting technique to challenge the repetition of the same image, but with all the flaws and limits of human nature. Layer by layer, glitch by glitch, she reaches an image, that is so human that is unrepeatable. When talking about her works, she once told me “clouds are heavier than rocks”. And I believed this because, through this practice, she re-imagines and re-creates the elements, and they become light, balanced and harmonious in space.

When thinking about the works of Gabriele, Tobias and Luisa, I go back to the afternoon and I realize that, even if it remains undefined, the message has passed.

*Styrodur: material used for house insulation