Opening Friday, September 18th at Art NXT Level Projects/33 Contemporary Gallery is a solo project by Germany-based artist Beate Axmann. Her highly anticipated exhibition opens at 7 pm at the 4th floor of the Zhou B Art Center.
At first sight, the works of Beate Axmann may come across as mere expressive and perhaps experimental gestural works. They are at times heavily layered or painted with minimal strokes. Often unstretched and asymmetrically imperfect in their final presentation. However, that first impression quickly evolves into a larger conversation as one becomes more aware of the existing intricacies, elaborate layers and glowing energy within the work. Axmann’s insightful beauty lays within her rich process and her ability to create powerful works out of assertive, expressive and intuitive strokes.
Beate Axmann is an experienced and well rounded artist whose paintings reveal the seemingly invisible soul within. A typical work combines symbols, color, forms, text, drippings, light and dark all working as a visual symphony of many moving parts. Occasionally, recognizable figures in the form of faces, heads or simple silhouettes emerge from the dense fields of color and forms. The work is by no means static, slow or relaxed. Rather, it delivers a visual energy that engulfs the viewer into an action of discovery from side to side and corner to corner in order to experience all that each work has to offer. It is in such dynamic compositions and expressive application of the paint surface that Axmann flourishes as an artist, delivering in each work a meaningful and radiant experience.
One of the main characteristics and singularities in the recent work of Beate Axmann is her use of light. In its physical form, light appears many times from within the surface of the work and other times as painted strokes of white or yellow characteristics. Light sometimes illuminates the entire work and other times it exists forcefully within a dark surface. In the works “ eacemaker: Tramondi IV and V,” light reigns and abounds as a gracious dominant stroke of white color that moves across from one work to the next one. These glowing lines blur at the top as if losing their physical and revelatory qualities. Yet towards the bottom they drip as the white paint comes back to its physical worldly nature. At that point, the paint can no longer hold its ground against the pulling forces of the earth’s gravitational force. In these works, the physical meets the ethereal.
In contrast, the presence of light in the works “Between North and South” takes on a more comunal presence. Rather than a single stroke of light or energy, the works reveal several circular organic light forms over a densely layered surface. These long and horizontal paintings are almost representational of a night scene in which the blurred lights in the landscape diffuse any sense of detail. Light and dark, night and day, north and south, in and out abound as metaphors for the high contrast of the composition. Layers of over imposed text are revealed behind the curtain of darkness and obscurity.
To observe light is to experience the presence of life. In its absence, life itself appears to be incomplete. Beate Axmann’s light is not only symbolic but also revelatory. It proclaims life where there was none. It celebrates where there was no joy and rises as a beacon of hope where there was none.
In the monumental painting “Peacemaker”, Axmann departs from shorter expressive brushstrokes and executes a beautifully captivating work which combines qualities of abstract expressionism and surrealism. Similar to Roberto Matta’s large paintings of cosmic mysticism, Axmann suggests an elaborate organic composition of seemingly abstract three-dimensional parts. The painting presents a sort of inner and outer cosmos that weaves dream with reality. Axmann’s use of subtle translucent white is also an interesting reference to Matta’s treatment of light. In this painting a striking large circular form emerges with the appearance of an all seeing eye. Its undeniable presence feels as both intimidating and nurturing.
To observe the work of Beate Axmann with a simple glimpse is to completely miss the layered intricacies the work has to offer. In order for these paintings to reveal themselves from the surface into the soul, one has to open the doors of our guarded self and let the light come through. It is in this state of contemplation and assimilation that an artist such as Beate Axmann penetrates and delivers its best work with an abundance of force, energy and mysterious illuminating truth.
Sergio Gomez, MFA
Art NXT Level Projects
Zhou B Art Center