Painting by Erdmute Blach (opening speech by Thomas Kumlehn, 2014)

texts 11. April 2014

Most of Erdmute Blach’s works exhibited here are purely painting sui generis. That irritates especially the one who knows her broad, diverse oeuvres. But he knows that she doesn’t confine her artistic desire to the genre-formative category, then that is painting. She searches for contacts across genres.

One medium to mention is artists’ book, in which she, with graphic and artistic competence, focuses on literature from Friederike Mayröcker for example or music from John Cage. Beyond this, Erdmute welcomes the risk of working outside her studio, in fact her studio hasn’t been bound to a specific location during the past several years. But no, she doesn’t indulge in plenair painting and stands in the harbor or by the fishponds at Hütter Wold with her easel. She spent time during the last two years as visiting artist in Portugal and Sweden and exhibited in both places. In 2015 she will paint again in a studio in Estremoz at the wish of the Dutch foundation Obras.
The risk of painting outside familiar rooms exceeds, however, the more or less sheltered existence of a studio stipendiary. Everyone who received an invitation to today’s opening suspected as much. As you already know, honored guests, the performance of the composition “hunt” by Sven Daigger has been announced for 27 May. Erdmute Blach will provide artistic accompaniment on the overhead projector to the Kamerata Artika under direction of Allesandro Palumbo. The adjective “hunting” was added in front of the title of the 10 minute long piece for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano from 2013. A play on words, so much is certain, and its mysterious meaning will be first unlocked for you and me during the performance.
It is deserving to perform Sven Daigger’s piece here. He studied in Rostock and, after the departure of Adriana Hölszky to Salzburg, also there. The piece was debuted almost exactly a year ago as Daigger studied under the wing of Wolfgang Riehm in Karlsruhe. There is, however, a certain relation to the exhibit itself. Erdmute Blach exhibits here two paintings she conceived in the resonance space she explored in her musical memory of the piece “Strom” by Sven Daigger. “Drehpunkt Kultur” reflected on the debut with the words “with great pull and momentum Sven Daigger’s ‘Strom’ for flute, clarinet, piano and cello […] flowed, boomed and swelled […] sometimes rhythmical capers with white crowns on the waves struck the surface and at other moments sent restrained impulses ‘from below’ to the top. Scherzo-like moments, even gleaming memories of a ‘romantic’ musical language passed by like distinct and demanding or soft and resilient rhythms.”
Erdmute Blach’s diptych retains a single language – the language of the image. While in the piece on the left the red catapults explosively from the deep to the surface, the piece on the right captures the delicate polyphony of broken luminance and serial seeming contours. Especially the alluded-to spatial perception in the diagonal and iridescent partition from dark to light appear like a pictorial-composed reverberation to Daiggers piece. The prolonged pizzicato in the quiet finale finds its equivalent in the fine white-gray lineament. It is a notable trace that the viewer can understand with confidence as a prelude in order to read the painting from front to back. That which a notable composition doesn’t allow is no problem for the art of painting. When viewing art, the chronology of how the painting came to be is not of concern. We meet the painting on a time continuum, comparable with the snapshot of an audio track.
Erdmute Blach, who never listens to music while she paints, creates in her artistic reference to a composition something that only concentrated listening can produce and that requires the subsequent release from the immediate musical impression. Mentally active acquisition and undivided attention are basic requirements when searching for and finding the individual musical language of the colors. With her personal musical perception only she knows in her head, Erdmute asserts herself again and again in her studio with this lonely self-conception of a visual artist.
Allow me now to go into two work series: a four-part series in which Erdmute Blach references “Klangwaben” by Adriana Hölszky for violin solo from 1993. The starting point for the composer was a scientific study of bee communication signals focusing on the tones made by young queens still in their cells and the tones of those already hatched. The reduced, raw and frictional voice of the piece, which features a drawn out, ticking, warily fading end, is notable. Erdmute Blach chooses a four stage picture development that move from an oppressive, misaligned space to an increasingly fluid, dynamic surface. Erdmute Blach’s series inspired by the 17-minute long composition from Jörg Widmann, “Sphinxenklänge und Rätselkanons” is a recent work. Her pictorial abstractions, especially the contrast between the changeable, smeared space-making surfaces and the precise, hard forms function as a counterpart to the heard sounds. The composer wrote, in the lead-up to his 2011 performance in Rostock of “Sphinxenklänge und Rätselkanons” that it had become “increasingly important” to him “to use sounds and rings not only as simply tonal phenomena, but to link these techniques with stringent forms.” In this respect, Erdmute Blach has grabbed a hold of the composition’s thread. Perhaps the exhibit can present the possibility of the first direct encounter between the artist and the composer. Tonight this meeting will not happen; both artists are, in different time zones and locations, in the public eye. Like Erdmute Blach here, in six hours time tonight in New York, Jörg Widmann will premier his composition “Fantasie für Klarinette solo.”
Alongside the aforementioned compositions, which constituted the acoustic inspiration for specific paintings, I could mention others, but I will let you discover them yourselves. Also the artist’s penchant for choosing expression markings to title her pictures waits for your discovery, honored guests. Strong rhythmical Indian ink and charcoal drawings and collages complete this impressive show in an appropriate venue. Congratulations, dear Erdmute, and thank you for your attention.

Thomas Kumlehn – opening of the exhibition Malerei & Konstrukte  at Rostock University of Music and Theatre 11.04.2014