Fernand Roda

Various Venues

Today’s young painters are not completely anarchistic and devoid of idealism. Fernand Roda has been a painter since the beginning of his artistic career in the ’70s and so has not had to rediscover painting in the ’80s. The focus of his work is painting itself, and the analysis of the possibilities of expression in painting. Where the subject intrudes into the work, it is as a consequence of rather than as the goal of painting.

These exhibitions of paintings and drawings made clear that in Roda’s work the relation between painting as painting and painting as provider of an autonomous, imaginary world of images is an inextricable one. The encounter of Roda with the material world of appearance can be discerned, and the drawings are, as it were, brief sketches of this encounter. Moreover, in the contact of color pencil or brush with white paper, material reality promptly recedes behind its significance as raw material for painting. This is suggested by Roda’s choice of subject—a landscape, the terrace of an ice-cream parlor, laundry fluttering in front of a window. The external world becomes a means of forging ahead, via painting, into another reality. This is the meaning of Roda’s analysis of painting—not an analysis in the intellectual sense, but an intuitive exploration of the painterly possibilities of fields of expression for impressions, fantasies, longings.

Some parts of Roda’s canvases show expressively expansive strokes; others, impulsive compression. Juxtaposed with the whirl of color, simultaneously accentuating and complementing it, are patches of muted luminosity. The work has its origin in the tension of surface versus gesture, ornament versus object; some layers of paint suggest a front and a back, and there is absolute two-dimensionality in each of these layers, in each graphic mark, and in the painterly surface.

The work defies specific meaning in a constantly challenging manner. There is nothing oppressive even in the aggression that can occasionally be detected; discomfort provides an impulse for further intuitive exploration. The paintings are subtly incomplete and open.

Concepts such as abstract and figurative do not apply here. Where the paintings include objects, the motive is possibly abstract; where, in a formal sense, abstraction is involved, dream figurations are provoked. What particularly emanates from Roda’s paintings and what is primarily suggested by his palette, by his preference for blue and green, is an original picture of nature, a picture of intangible yet profuse growth, a picture of cosmic life.

Annelie Pohlen

Translated from the German by Martha Humphreys.