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"Roseus", Gotthard Graubner (Erlbach, 1930 - Düsseldorf, 2013), 2002

After his student years at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin and the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Dresden, German painter Gotthard Graubner moved to Düsseldorf. In Düsseldorf Graubner studied at the Kunstakademie, and exhibited for the first time with important group ZERO.

Graubner's paintings concentrate on allowing pure colour to appear in the most immaterial possible way. Volume, space and colour are at the heart of the artist's body of work. During his artistic career, Graubner materialized his pictorial concept through the notion of Farbraumkörper or 'Color Space Body', producing a colour formation of indefinite depth comparable to the works of Mark Rothko. Colour became the medium of the art work itself.

To enhance the spatial effects of his colour surfaces, Graubner in the 1960s began to mount picture-sized colour cushions in his pictures, later covering them with Perlon fabric. At various points under the canvas, the artist placed cushions of synthetic material thus turning the painting into a three-dimensional body. These cushion paintings, then entitled Kissenbilder, were first shown at Alfred Schmela Gallery in Düsseldorf. In 1970 the artist replaced the older terms Kissenbilder and Farbleib ('Colour Body') by the above mentioned term Farbraumkörper ('Colour Space Body'). Later Graubner also introduced another series, his so-called Nebelräume ('Fog Spaces') by further elaborating his understanding of volume, space and colour.

Graubner preferred not to get lost in endless philosophies and theories about his work. If he was able to express his emotions through words, songs or writings, he would. But he choose to paint them. Recent works such as Stilles Leuchten or "Still Light" therefore refer to the quiet activity of the artist as well as to the emotional reaction of the viewer of his work. His works embody a place of silence, a Raum der Stille. Their composition, based merely on colour and texture, removes a layer of narrative noise that we normally seek in art - a direction of what to think and feel.

Graubner's work generates an impression of vitality and concentration of the movement of colour meeting the energy of volume. His unique way of achieving this allows his art to be independent of all connections to any kind of representation or theme. Colour does not identify objects: it is not linked to shape, but rather it tries to eliminate appearance. The artist created an imaginary space where interior surfaces in contrast with the backdrop take shape as if they were weightless. The German art historian Max Imdahl once explained that Graubner's 'Colour Space Bodies' are "spaces of sensation". In complete contrast to the linear and scientifically constructed central perspective, their spatiality cannot be measured and defies all attempts by the viewer to gain a rational command of them. So colour is regarded as an immediate visual reality which liberates the viewer from preconfigured and pragmatically dictated mechanisms of behaviour and body as object invested with spirit.

Object information

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas over synthetic wool on canvas
74 x 54 x 11 cm
Private collection Gerard Valkier; Acquired directly from the artist's studio.

Signed, titled and dated 'Graubner 2002 "Roseus"' on the reverse.

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