The exhibition of the Austrian painter Eva Kaiser took place on Sunday, 23.02.2020 at the PASHMIN ART GALLERY in Hamburg.
The trailer of the artist, who had travelled from Salzburg together with her partner, stood in front of the gallery entrance. Seeing photos of painted pictures, whether in catalogues or on the internet, is one thing. But to see the works hung in the original, well sorted, is a revelation, especially as the artist was present. So Mr Nouri, Chenxin Ge and Eva Kaiser opened the seven-week exhibition. I agreed on a friendly "Du" with the artist.
Eva Kaiser in an interview with Zeitblatt author Bastian Lee Jones
I was allowed to write a preliminary article about the exhibition and your work and this exhibition "Redemption of Empathy". (http://zeitblatt.com/die-neue-kunstausstellung-erloesung-der-empathie-von-eva-kaiser/) Can you please introduce yourself!
I am Eva Kaiser from Salzburg, Austria and I would like to show abstract expressionism. My way of painting.
You "dare" to paint spiritual religious themes. You have painted some "Christs".
It is always the same Christ, but there are several types and representations.
Why is it a "trusting"?
Christ is God for me. One does not want to deface this inviolable divinity. Or drag it into the negative. Or let too much humanity flow into it. The physical representation should not go too much into matter. It is about the superior I that he radiates.
Christianity breaks out of the binary code - good versus evil, black versus white. There is the Trinity. God the Father/Mother, God the Son/Daughter and the Holy Spirit. Which of these three aspects inspires you most at certain times and in certain moods?
...I try to depict the complex in my pictures in a puristic way. It is the suffering. It is him. There is no need to show a face. Completely puristic. I show expressionistically the suffering, the inspiration and the redemption.
Inspiration. You spoke earlier about the "solitude" in the studio, where a dialogue takes place. For this dialogue, one must have the courage not to ask material questions, but to ask about other things. What are those things for you?
Empathy, or a foreign word for many, is the word: dignity. What is dignity?
Perhaps the dignity comes from the mystery, from the holiness. We have the Shroud of Turin - and its authenticity has been scientifically confirmed. So one can conclude from this that a resurrection can actually have taken place. There we are on the level of proof.
... that is very difficult. I would like to distance myself from it. Because it is a matter of faith. The mysterious is more inspiring to me than knowledge. Whether a shroud is real or fake. We never know in the end. After all, there are scriptures. And when you deal with Christian art, you have to put yourself in it. Who believes in it or not. That is to each his own. The fact is that it's absolute madness to believe in someone and love someone who lets himself be crucified there. Isn't it?
For me, this is a question that, ...
That is very exciting for me - you can disagree with me. I see spontaneity in what you paint. And that is an unplanned spontaneity. Scientific proof - that is calculated, logically thought out and not at all spontaneous. Is that also what makes you uncomfortable?
... that makes me uncomfortable! My art cannot exist there. But when I think of the suffering, the crucifixion, where he says: he must fulfil this. That's it!
Excerpts from the laudatory speech by Chenxin Ge: 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, a reflection 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.
This picture is one of your favourites.
Made spontaneously. Without regard for presentation, market, favour. It is shapeless. That's where I turn the inside out. Closely embraced. With only one eye at a time.
This inwardness is apparently represented in you by the inwardly turned eyes that always look down.
I didn't even consciously notice that. It's pure spontaneity and expression. I paint soul.
When you paint soul - is that in the picture an expression of your soul in a moment or in a film?
This is supposed to be Mary Magdalene and Jesus. We have indicated the crossbeam above. This is the play with the eyes. A scene. A film clip.
But also a play with myths. Mary Magdalene as the lover of Jesus.
Yes, that is very exciting. We don't know. We have no proof.
One of the refreshing things about Christianity is the strong role of women - perhaps the strongest compared to other traditions. They have only been written out, concealed, by the male scribes. There were many women disciples in Jesus' inner circle. The first European person to be baptised was Lydia! The women did not run away, but stayed at the crucifixion and they were at the tomb. With you, sometimes, like in this picture, you can't tell if it's a male or female body!
Yes. The status of women in any religion is bad. But that is patriarchy. This struggle, this competition. If we go further back, there was matriarchy, where everything was balanced.
We are standing in front of a very large-format painting. When you are in the studio in front of a white canvas. How does it feel? Can you see the result beforehand?
So this is the inwardness, this soulfulness that you were talking about earlier?
Yes. And I hope that this inwardness comes out of me again and again in this act of painting. This pure act. And I hope that all this public hype doesn't have a negative effect on my art.
You studied with Hermann Nitsch. He stands for "Viennese Actionism". Did he inspire you to let your work out spontaneously?
Yes. He is a great artist who can do all kinds of painting. An excellent pianist. As a professor, he is a teacher who can transmit to you very well. To know exactly, the intuition, when the artwork is finished, when it is the last stroke. Great.
Now here we are in front of one of my personal favourites. There we have this intimate inward and downward look
(smiles) ... yes that's right. The view downwards. But it turned out quite well here. (Eva nods approvingly at the picture)
... perhaps a stupid question. How long did the creative process take - from the idea and intuition to the final brushstroke?
... I can't say that. I am a wet-on-wet painter. I stand in the studio for three, four, five or ten hours.
.... in the preliminary conversation we had talked about being crazy and trusting yourself. So of course I can understand that you don't stand there with a stopwatch. I imagine myself in a kind of flow. In a state where I'm not even myself, but outside of space and time and mind.....
... something like that, yes. That's how it should be.
Is this a condition that you can bring about deliberately?
... yes. Thank God.
What rituals do you have to get into vibration?
Well, I get up and walk my dog and then I go to the studio ... times, then I sit down, take a break, sit in front of a blank canvas and see a nude or .... often I've read a book and there's something in the memory. A scene. An affair. Something. And then I let myself go with it.
With me as a songwriter, there are also different starting points. Either I have a text idea, or a pianistic musical motif, or I have a colour, or I see a film scene, smell, and I feel kissed by the muse, and I have to somehow notate or play it on the pianoforte and go into the realisation... .
Exactly! That's how I feel too. And interestingly enough: Smelling, like music, has a special meaning. Smelling is undervalued. But smelling inspires. It's very powerful. I think so too.
I was allowed to write your preliminary article. And I wrote: one can smell your pictures. Here I smell lilac, lavender ...
Interesting. Here they are hard cold colours against a hard face ... Lilac and lavender are rather warm colours.
...precisely because of these strong complementary contrasts - it pulls together softly and pastel-like in perception ... and it is, of course, my erotic fantasy ... which, ...
The conversation could have gone on.
Exhibition "Redeeming Empathy
Artist: Eva Kaiser (Austria)
When: 23.02. - 14.04.2020
Vernissage: Sunday, 23.02.2020, at 3.00 p.m.
Where: Pashmin Art Gallery