GARDEN OF EDEN – GERDI GUTPERLE ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION
From 19th of September 2017 at Kunstraum Gerdi Gutperle
The Garden of Eden is of manifold importance to us humans. We associate the term with the origins of our existence, with good living, fertility, abundance, green nature, a rich variety of animals and food, peaceful coexistence and a shelter for all life. For us the Garden of Eden means Paradise. Adam and Eve lived there until Eve was seduced by the snake and ate of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. In the Bible, the holy book of Christians, this moment is described as the Fall of Man. All monotheist religions agree that Eden existed, even though they interpret the Fall of Man differently. Meanwhile scientists even believe that they know where it was located. Eden may have been situated on a river, which divided into Euphrates, Tigris and two other rivers. This would suggest that Paradise was embedded in a greater region in an area between Turkey and Iran. Today, we would hardly associate this region with the characteristics of the Garden of Eden as described above.
Unfortunately, things changed after the Fall of Man and the expulsion from Paradise. Certainly this is easy to bear compared to discord, envy, hatred, war, persecution, destruction of cultural heritage or the destructive activities of suicide assassins. Almost every day we are reminded of this negative reality of our world by the press.
In 2017, Gerdi Gutperle celebrates her 20th anniversary as an artist with her exhibition “Garden of Eden”. Those who have followed her development during those years, know how important nature and people are to her and how much she loves beauty and art. They equally know with how much compassion she follows the life of others, and how much she cares about the well-being of people, especially of those in need. She doesn’t turn a blind eye to poverty, but instead tries to help, for instance with her children’s hospital in India, which is co-financed by the proceeds from the sale of her works.
In her paintings, she leads us away from the destructive things of this world and into a space of botanical abundance, boasting a variety of shapes and shades, sunrises and sunsets as well as breathtaking plays of clouds. What is striking in her works, which she created this year specifically for the exhibition, is the expressive choice of colours in dark blue, intense pink and radiant yellow. One can feel the sky struggling with itself, with the landscapes or the wind, which blows through the tops of the palm trees. The stroke of the brush is powerful and very spontaneous. People very rarely appear in Gerdi Gutperle’s paintings. Signs of civilisation are equally rare. In her compositions she deliberately omits the furious conduct of people and instead focuses on the beauty of nature and its wonders, both big and small. By using a variety of materials and artistic methods such as oil painting, spatula technique as well as the paint-print-paint method, she creates landscapes as they do not occur in nature. Often though, people only notice this at second glance. A palm leaf grows out of the fruit of a pineapple and delicate flower petals are visible beside the spiky crowns of Mediterranean trees. As the earth, the sea and the sky are superimposed, the observer is able to perceive and explore several spatial levels in the painting. Ideal landscapes were a popular subject from the baroque period to mid 19th century. Artists such as Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Joseph Anton Koch or Carl Rottmann combined vast plains, lakes, mountains, people, animals, cities and abandoned ruins imaginatively and theatrically, thus creating an ideal place - their Arcadia. Therefore, Gerdi Gutperle is following a long tradition. She transfers to our modern world and its artistic techniques what was then created in oil and followed the spirit of the respective time period.
In some of her works - both paintings and ceramics - the artist invites the observer to reflect on individual plants. She depicts the beauty of a blossom or fruit and, in some of her ceramic wall pieces, the focus is on the shape of individual leaves with their serrated edges and distinct veins. Her wall pieces, which feature strongly abstracted and very colourful leaves, assembled into a cheerful round dance, are to remind us of the diversity of nature.
Her masterful skills are above all evident in “her” creation of Adam and Eve, since these two main characters mustn’t be missing in an exhibition on the theme “Garden of Eden”. The artist has created two similar sculptural groups using ceramic, i.e. clay, which is a soil material and thus quite naturally belongs to the Garden of Eden. Both Adam and Eve are depicted as torsos. Their well-shaped bodies - arms, legs and heads are missing - are covered by a layer consisting of a variety of leaves. Glazed in shades ranging from turquoise to brown green, the little art works are joined together and merge with the body they cover. As an addition to this group Gerdi Gutperle has created two ceramic spheres of different size. The interpretation whether the spheres represent the apple of temptation or the globe is left to the observer. Here, the surface, also glazed in green shades, is covered by a great variety of ornaments, thus creating a three dimensional relief.
Since our notion of the Garden of Eden also includes “being sheltered”, large-scale wall pieces, featuring helping hands, as well as some lockets, which remind us of mermaids or angels playing, are also shown in the exhibition. These works perfectly characterise Gerdi Gutperle’s understanding of humanity, kindness and protection and her fervent wish to help others.
With her art Gerdi Gutperle shows us that we are still living in the Garden of Eden. Though the world around us is raging and our focus, especially in the Western world, is on material things, we can still find Paradise in our immediate surroundings - every day, time and again. All we have to do is to look closely, realise it and be thankful for this miracle.
Dr. Bettina Broxtermann
For more information, visit the website of Kunstraum Gerdi Gutperle.