Ingeborg Lüscher

Elisabeth Kaufmann

For some three years, Ingeborg Lüscher has been extricating herself from the literary plexus of her partially illustrative painting and relying more on the elementary clout of biomorphic sculpture and abstract painting. In 1988–89, she produced a series of powerful, large-format paintings with a cold yellow sulfur pigment and ashes mixed into acrylic, and, for the first time, the primal alchemistic struggle between light and dark was waged wholly on the picture plane. In the light of the radiant sulfur and the light-devouring ashes, we find an existential split in which the spark of life is ignited.

Lüscher has also produced smaller pedestal sculptures in which an outer shell of plaster and sawdust is applied to a found log or everyday object. This shell is then dusted with sulfur, which dissolves into the sculptural body turning it into an immaterial “light body.” In the spring of 1990, Lüscher separated sulfur and ashes into two rectangular monochrome pictures, which were joined together in various constellations and attached to the wall. In this way, she moved closer to sculpture in structural terms, and also managed to enter into a dialogue with the architectonic surround. In this show, a six-foot-high sculptural core thrust painting as an autonomous colored body into space, potentially stretching it out into every last nook and cranny of the enclosing architecture. The artist equipped the gallery with pairs of same-sized blocks either strewn with yellow powdered sulfur or painted with a black ash pigment. Thus, a yellow block lay horizontally in front of a vertical black one, or a black block lay flat against a yellow wall-like structure. Lüscher integrated this choreography of abstract pairings into the open multilevel architecture; the symmetrical, almost archaic arrangement skillfully counteracted the irregular and narrow alignment of the gallery without becoming rigid or statuary.

Lüscher has continued along the path she set out some three years ago—the path of reduction to elementary pictorial means. She has successfully reached the point at which the formal transfer among the categories of painting, sculpture, and architecture has become possible. Despite this reductive process, Lüscher’s works have lost none of the vivid intensity that makes a piece a complex organism—a living body composed of light and darkness and conveying experienced time and experienced space as a unity.

Markus Brüderlin

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.