Beate Wassermann

Galerie Kammer

Beate Wassermann’s favorite story is the story of Icarus. It’s not his fall that impresses her so deeply but the monumental courage of having made the ascent at all. What she finds compelling is Icarus’ passionate desire to push his powers to the limit and his determination, despite his crippled wings, not to lose faith in a new beginning. Hence, the broken wing appears and reappears like a leitmotif throughout Wassermann’s works, as a simplified, abstract sign that represents the conquering of one’s own boundaries. For Wassermann, the power to attempt the impossible over and over again comes out of the fractures and injuries that result from every attempt. These fractures and injuries are easily read in her paintings. Hard, jagged forms cut into the gentle flow of colors; the smooth stroke of the brush is interrupted by the abrupt slice of the palette knife. Wassermann’s desire to overcome her own boundaries takes the form of an uncompromising effort to transcend the given boundaries of the figure.

In the search for a new, more abstract figural real in, Wassermann has developed a rich vocabulary of signs. There are rhomboids, triangles, and semicircles that recall familiar forms—female symbols or constellations, for instance—or, like archetypal signs, go beyond specific meanings, calling up emotions that elude clear designation. These emotional signs are images that Wassermann carries in her mind for a long time as unpainted images before she dares to “attempt the flight” of painting. But when she does give them form, she uses almost any technique or medium—palette knife, brush, sponge, egg tempera, pastels—whatever can unlock the inner image. In her more recent work Wassermann sets one stream of paint against another, in contrasting currents of color, that simultaneously repel and attract each other, finally coalescing into a rigorous geometric form. For all their abstraction, these image-signs have a strong expressive power. Their emotionality, however, is at times on dangerous ground, slipping into a seductive beauty.

Doris von Drateln

Translated from the German by Leslie Strickland.