A VISIT TO PARADISE
Excerpt from the opening speech by Dr. Bettina Broxtermann
When Gerdi Gutperle and Stefan Szczesny were introduced to each other, they soon realised that they had a lot in common, both thematically and artistically. Apart from their versatility in the usage of materials, nature - as a source of inspiration - runs through the artists’ oeuvre like a golden thread: Szczesny depicts nature in a colourful, reduced and highly distorted way, while Gutperle’s depiction of nature features a wide range of techniques and materials.
Ceramic sculptures rate high in both artists’ oeuvre. Therefore, this exhibition does not only showcase Stefan Szczesny’s large-format paintings, but also some of his ceramics, alongside Gerdi Gutperle’s ceramics, that thematically revolve around the title of the exhibition, “A Visit to Paradise”.
But let’s start with Stefan Szczesny’s paintings. The sun, the sea, the beach, naked and erotic women, palm trees, sweet and juicy fruit, plenty of light and radiant colours - Stefan Szczesny’s works take us to another world, far from hectic and stress, straight into sun filled warmth and pleasant lightness. The stories, brought to life on canvas with quick strokes, tell of abundance, good living and eroticism in civilisation - a paradisiacal state we all dream of and happily emphasise with.
Many years ago, the artist exchanged his studio in Cologne for a residence at the French Riviera. Here, he often paints out in the open with a view of the sea, one with his surroundings, the climate and the cultural attractions of the region. Nevertheless, his paintings are not direct images of reality. Nature and cities become settings, and, to that purpose, are being distorted. Reduced to the essential, they have a bold and simple effect, and, in some cases, appear like billboards of well-known places: Saint Tropez, Sénéquier, Club 55. Szczesny plays with narrative and visual levels, which he layers like transparent slides. He loves ambiguity and deliberately employs it as a stylistic device.
Stefan Szczesny was born in Munich in 1951. After receiving his first training as a painter at a private art school in Munich, he studied at the “Akademie für Bildende Künste” (Academy of Fine Arts) in Munich from 1969 to 1975. As one of the protagonists of the “Neue Wilde” (the New Wild) movement, Szczesny started gaining a reputation in the art world in the early 1980’s - both on the national as well as on the international scene. Exhibitions worldwide, high profile art projects and an inexhaustible oeuvre show his creativity and love of art. Despite his bold brushwork and carefree composition, Szczesny does not detach himself from artistic traditions. During his scholarships in Florence and Rome, he studied Italian classical art. To Szczesny, the artistic disciplines painting, music, theatre and architecture intertwine and mutually influence one another - something he enjoys exploring time and again.
The subjects Szczesny addresses in his paintings are full of joie de vivre. Gradually, the artist transferred those subjects to other materials, and thus artistic techniques. He uses ceramic, iron and glass to create murals, vases and sculptures. A carefree and very lively use of colours, shapes, spaces and stories is always evident in his oeuvre. Almost all of his works feature his muse and wife Eva - sleeping, naked, erotic, on a bed of fruit, or as two-dimensional shadow sculpture in his series “Shadows”. Eva also features in his ceramics. Over twenty years ago, the universal artist started developing an interest in ceramics, thereby following in the footsteps of one of his role models, Pablo Picasso. (...)
I do not intend to make a comparison between the ceramic oeuvre of Stefan Szczesny and Gerdi Gutperle. Those having engaged in ceramics know about the diversity and versatility of this material. There are no limits to artistic expression if one combines imagination with craftsmanship and mastery of various firing techniques.
Those familiar with the works of Gerdi Gutperle know that she always addresses Creation and nature in her works. This is also true for her ceramics. Plants and vines, fruit, animals and fantasy shapes grow or climb up their stelae. The pieces consist of cylindrical and cubic bodies that are hollow inside and stabilised by metal rods. This technique allows the artist to create large-format works.
Consider the ceramics of Gerdi Gutperle that are on display as a foretaste of her solo show "Garden Eden", which opens on 19 September 2017. With that exhibition the artist celebrates both the anniversary of Gerdi Gutperle art and that of the art room itself. (...)
Dr. Bettina Broxtermann, February 2017