Friday, 3 September 2010


(Beauty within Ease)
When viewed in the silence of the art gallery, the "Forest of Birch Trees" series presented by Elisabeth Ochsenfeld is a sight for sore eyes. Thanks to the persistent chromatic vista of its spaciousness and the abundant full visual space that draw's the viewer's sight to the horizontal, wide panels, the birch trees series gives tranquility to the eye. It is a genuine moment of ease - an otium oasis amidst a world maddened with (and by) negotium. The first and foremost mes-sage of the series lies in the removing of the boundaries of a space where what we can generally look at draws its own sight inwards. Through the dislocation of these boundaries the viewer faces absolute beauty; and it is through this type of beauty that the viewer gains a special degree of ease. At the first level of perception, Elisabeth Ochsenfeld gives us rest within the beauty she has created.
Nevertheless, there is another level of perception that arises from admiring her series after we have dwelt within the ease offered by its beauty. It is at this second level that we discover meditation.
Admired from the reposing perspective of beauty, the "Forest of Birch Trees Series" is a meditation upon art conducted by means of refusing discourse meditation. When painters meditate upon painting they generally create meta-paintings: in other words, they reject the painting on its own terms. The outcome is sometimes quite interesting. It is seldom beautiful. Nevertheless, preserving beauty within her visual discourse is for Elisabeth Ochsenfeld an absolute prerequisite (in this series, as we have just shown, we refer to that particular type of beauty which places us at that ease as in otio). Therefore, such meditation is conducted without altering the shapes, without annihilating the outlined concept, without mutilating the object. The artist's selected method is to multiply by setting it either in a frame, or frieze sequence, cinematic succession, stroboscopic decomposition, adorning arabesque, medallion juxtaposition, or, lastly, by framing the image between lateral panels of uniform chromatics, which highlight it now by contrast and now by confirmation (as, for instance, the two triptychs of purple chromatics or sanguineous nuances of the birch trees in the central panel, with complementary lateral pastel).
Meditation suggests two trains of thought: the first is beauty emerging from object fragmenta-tion, the second is mystery creation by insistent unveiling in plain view of all that can be shown. As a rule, fragmentation or object multiplication is employed with a view to analyzing the visual object. However, Elisabeth Ochsenfeld does not seek to analyze the object, she would rather capture it in various glimpses of its presence which is felt as a revelation, as an epiphany, when the physical representation beauty entails vigor. Inside the multiplication of the birch trees texture we can find no trace whatsoever of the abstract coolness pertaining to an analytical process. On the contrary, we can fully rediscover the concrete richness of the overflowing epiphany. The first theme to ponder upon, captured in the form of the following question: "What is the purpose of object fragmentation and multiplication?", therefore has as its solution the epiphany itself, together with the following theorem: when beauty rests in otio, simple and humble life discloses its glorious appearance, the call of revelation.
The second pensive theme is the expression of the following question:" Where does the mystery feeling arise from when everything is displayed in the open?". Generally, object multiplication leads to the exhaustion of what we may call its visible "hidden side". It is well known that multiplication lessens; exhibition wears out; habit devalues. Still, in the case of these birch trees, we are not placed within the phenomenon called "the work of art in its mechanical reproduction era". Where does salvation come from? In my opinion, it emerges from beauty. Beauty, when one tries to understand it, proves to be an enigma. When one begins to feel it, it becomes a mystery, mysteries as with the great liturgical sacraments. There is no other answer to the question raised by the second meditation theme than that Elisabeth Ochsenfeld has accomplished pure beauty in her birch trees series. And beauty, just like Angelus Silesius' rose, cannot fathom the "why".

Die Rose ist ohne Warum. Sie blühet, weil sie blühet.
Sie achtet nicht ihrer selbst, fragt nicht, ob man sie siehet.

The rose explains. It blooms because it blooms.
It heeds not itself, asks not how you see it.

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