In this exhibition "Redemption of Empathy", a total of 27 paintings from Eva Kaiser's artistic oeuvre are shown. The diversity of her works ranges from Christian iconography to expressionist depictions of people as well as more recent abstractions. However, the pictorial language of each type is not detached from the subject depicted, but shows an afterlife of the traditional symbolic content of empathy without its cultural-historical shell.
The term Empathy has different forms of existence in the development of art. In traditional church paintings, one finds a complete system of colour symbolism.
The function of colour is originally independent of representational object and thus evokes accurate emotional associations from the viewer. They also use the physical presence of Christ to evoke the empathy of the viewer. As the French church father HL. Bernard of Clairvaux suggests, "Since we are carnal beings and from concupiscence or our love begin with the flesh". Accordingly, the pictorial representation foregrounds Christ's humanity over his divinity in order to accentuate the viewer's emotional approach to the Crucified, his wounds and his suffering.
In Eva Kaiser's paintings with a religious theme, however, the pictorial components deviate significantly from the traditional mode of representation. In the painting "the Messiah", the artist uses a close-up of a bust image instead of showing the whole body of the suffering Christ. His low hanging head, however, leaves his facial features unrecognisable. In contrast to the emphasis on the physical agony of the Saviour's body, the artist's rapidly painted brushwork smears the site of the side wound.
Since the secondary perception of cultural people can fall back on natural independence, Eva Kaiser also shows here, beyond Christian iconography, an image of primitive human sensations. She liberates the internal emotional tones of the colours by detaching them from their relationship to representational pictorial content. Instead of painting blood realistically, the artist does not describe Christ's suffering directly with the red, but expresses the vehemence during the Passion in its independent form. This red merges with the yellow of the heavenly majesty and turns into an enthusiastic orange.
Freed from its conventional servitude, Eva Kaiser continues to use colour in her colour landscapes and abstractions. In the paintings "Ireland", the artist manifests the stormy restlessness of the environment by means of a strong contrast. The broad swathes of her colour expression do not reproduce a compact form, but create an atmospheric impression that changes at every moment and reflects the vital expressiveness of the natura naturan owns.
In this way, nature is no longer seen as the only thing to be imitated. natura naturata but is regarded as the outcome of the essential desire for expression. The artist shortens the transformation process of symbolisation between the depicted elements and the subjective perception. The colours no longer refer to the exclusive abstract ideas, but cause in a direct and intuitive way the emotional perception, which can differ from viewer to viewer. Compared to the concrete reality of material life, the strength of their brushwork evokes the sensory perception in the viewer's inner world.
Apart from the use of colours with their immediate pathos, the modernist representation of Eva Kaiser in Christian iconography also opens up the perspective of the Incarnation. Through the unrecognisable facial features, Eva Kaiser de-identifies the Messiah. Thus, his corporeal presence evokes empathy not specifically to a single subject, but to the general corporeality of human beings.
The de-identified presence in the religious theme is transformed into the individualistic figures in Eva Kaiser's nude and portrait painting. The heads of the people in everyday life, which in earlier epochs were deeply bowed, appear upright here. Various female bodies give in to the urge of freedom of nudity. They vary in both form and colour milieu and do not represent objective objectivity but reflect a sensual appeal. In contrast to the tenderness of women in classical aesthetics, the artist shows the sexuality and rapture of femininity veiled with ecstatic colours and transformed surface. Redeemed from dogmatic fetters, a utopian world before the Fall is to be found in her pictorial content, an archetype of man with his purest empathic tendency.
Pashmin Art Gallery