2004, „Kraft des Lichts“, Prof. Fritz Billeter

Speech by Dr. Fritz Billeter to mark the opening of the
exhibition in the Galerie Claudine Hohl in Zurich.

Gerdi Gutperle’s style of painting has more in common with that of Georgia O‘Keeffe. The American artist’s flowers – hard as it is to believe today – were a cause of scandal on the East Coast. In the 1920s, American society was under the spell of Sigmund Freud. With his help, it discovered sexuality and practised the art of talking about it without faltering – and now, in O’Keeffe’s flowers, it could see nothing but sexual symbols, an interpretation which the painter, to preserve her freedom as an artist, consistently denied.

However, that is only one aspect of Gutperle‘s flower paintings. Another is concerned not with the earthly, fleshly, erotic principle, but in fact the exact opposite, namely dematerialization and spiritualization. In the exhibition, »Spirit Sparkle« (»Geistesfunkeln«) und »Force of Light« (»Kraft des Lichts«) hang side by side. The latter of the two is the work we find reproduced on the invitation to the vernissage. In both pictures, the process of abstraction has progressed a long way, being translated into a structural form with a character virtually all of its own, in which the flower - the starting point of the picture - is now barely recognizable. »Force of Light«, immersed in cool, cosmic white, green and blue, calls to mind a fountain of light or, in its brittle transparency, an overflowing glass vessel, rather than a flower made of material substance. In the case of »Spirit Sparkle«, I think of a column of light, rising to a capital in the shape of a flaming sun, supporting the dome of the cosmos.