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SCROLLPAINTING 137 fragile turns
exposição individual Elisabeth Sonneck

4.07 __ 2.08.2024

Ulrich Loock

in: Elisabeth Sonneck - In Color, Site specific Painting, Works 2006 – 2011, ed. Modo Verlag, Freiburg 2012



(...) Sonneck’s paintings can be described as experiments resulting in specific, unplanned, yet satisfying images for which no pre-established norms exist. These images are emphatically singular. In contrast to claims of scientific research they eschew generalisations. If an extensive practice results in experience that directs and impacts on the production of subsequent works, each new work implies an increase in experience, and precisely not its reduction to totalizing abstraction. The fact that, in the studio, Sonneck usually paints three works based on the same idea, underlines the distinct singularity of each individual work, none of which closes off the complete range of options nor encompasses all possibilities; rather each formulation suggests other formulations. In contrast to scientific research each result expands the field of possibilities (...)


Painting is shown to be the direct outcome of a specific sequence of physical activities, just as these, in turn, are a result of the painting requirements. The application of paint and physical movement become inextricable; brushstrokes obtain a seismographic character (…).


The body-related particularity of each individual brushstroke animates the painting in a way that is hardly perceptible but nevertheless palpable. This vitalisation is an involuntary result of painterly pragmatics; it appears unintentional and it is left to the viewer to grasp it. It is somatic and not expressive: the sediment of physical action does not translate any psychic movement, but remains bound in simple corporeal operations. Insofar as this painting is based on a pragmatic economy of means, it follows the scholastic maxim of not increasing entities beyond necessity. This economy also includes the exclusive use of brushes twelve centimetres wide for the production of the individual bands of paint; the differing widths of the bands are due solely to the lateral superimposition of brushstrokes. The dependence of the painting ́s elements on physical possibilities and necessities excludes any significance beyond the economics of the paint application, whilst facilitating the perception of the colours and their interrelationships. (...)


The simple vestiges of process and the unpretentiousness of the seismographic traces of a physical operation – counteracting any theatricality – contradict in a certain way the visual manifestation of the painting. Namely, bands of paint are placed next to each other and superimposed on one another in such numbers that it becomes impossible to trace the painting’s construction to its origins. On the contrary, the certainties of the economic pragmatics of its production, mediated by the painting itself, rub against the irreducible appearance of the work before us. It is precisely the transparency and comprehensibility of the production process that underscore the ineluctability of the visual reality. (...)


Consequently, there is no underlying criterion for the selection of colours that is continually adapted throughout the process of painting. This absence of a consistent orientation is yet another fact contributing to the uniqueness of each individual painting and the infinite number of possible manifestations. Following the first reaction to the predetermined colour field, it is then entirely left to the originality of the painter’s decisions in which direction to proceed in developing the interrelationships of colour. Inevitably the issue of absence of aesthetic norms in modernism arises, namely the question of when to stop, that is, when a picture should be considered finished. Sonneck has commented: “The criteria for this are difficult to identify; but the point is relatively clear, a kind of fluid tension.” (…)


The formal structuring of the pictorial field by means of contradictions and their reversals leads to a dynamic balance, counteracting any ossification of visual facts. One might say that the painting’s process-bound form of production is translated into the simultaneous movement of the finished painting, just as the painting conversely retains a memory of the physical procedure of its own production.

A significant clue to the production process can be gleaned from the bands in the works since 2008 (with a precedent from 2007) that do not continue right to the edges: they testify to the multiple overlaying of brushstrokes, a procedure contributing to a further vitalising of the painterly structure in that the brush, on being lifted from the surface deposits a denser area of paint. (…) Sonneck’s practice of on-going experimentation focuses on formulations of colour that “is indefinable, and also not really imaginable and instable, as well as being infinite in the possible spectrum of hues.” Her studio painting is the site of this unremittingly repeated experiment. Site-specific paintings are its disruption at a specific location and a specific time.

Ulrich Loock was born in 1953 in Braunschweig (Germany) and currently lives as an art critic, curator and teacher in Berlin. From 1985 to 2010, he served as director and deputy director at Kunsthalle Bern, Kunstmuseum Luzern and Museu de Serralves. For more than 30 years, he organized exhibitions of artists of his generation as well as other generations, participated in editing catalogs for exhibitions, presented lectures in different parts of the world and contributed to several publications.

Short Bio Elisabeth Sonneck


Elisabeth Sonneck (b.1962 Bünde, Germany), studied sculpture at FH für Kunst Ottersberg (DE).

Lives and works in Berlin. Several art academy teaching assignments about colour and space, and curatorial projects.

Since 2006 focusing on site specific interventions with paintings, wall paintings and numerous large-scaled paper-installations.

Her work was widely shown in museums, galleries, art institutions, project spaces and in public space, and is included in private and public collections in Austria, Canada, Germany, Hongkong, Italy, Switzerland and The Netherlands.


Recent solo shows: Spazio Insitu Rome (IT), Foundation Conceptual Art in the Morgner Museum Soest (DE), Kunstverein Neukölln Berlin (DE), IWE Art Museum Kunming (CN), Brunnhofer Gallery Linz (AT), Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie Dessau (DE), Kunstmuseum Ahlen (DE), Museum Gegenstandsfreier Kunst Otterndorf (DE), Galerie Weisser Elefant Berlin (DE).


Selected group shows: 2024 Gallery Roger Katwijk, Amsterdam (NL) | 2023, 2020, 2015 Museum Gegenstandsfreier Kunst Otterndorf (DE) | 2023, 2021, 2019, 2017 Foundation Conceptual Art in the Morgner Museum Soest (DE) | 2023 Galeria Promocyjna Warsaw (PL), Fabbrica Del Vapore Via Farini Milan (IT), Gallery Heike Strelow Frankfurt (DE) | 2022 Studiogalerie Haus am Lützowplatz Berlin (DE), Neuer Kunstverein Aschaffenburg (DE) | 2021 Kunstraum Hochdorf (CH), Künstlerhaus Schloss Plüschow (DE) | 2020 Mumu Gallery Tainan (TW), Brunnhofer Gallery Linz (AT) | 2019 Gallery Rupert Pfab Düsseldorf (DE) | 2018 City Gallery Prague (CZ), Künstlerhaus Dortmund (DE) | 2017 Kunstmuseum Bremerhaven (DE), Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen (DE) | 2016 Boris Yeltsin Centre, Yekaterinburg (RU), Austrian Papermaker Museum Steyrermühl (AT) | 2014 New Bedford Art Museum New Bedford (USA) | 2013 Georg Kolbe Museum Berlin (DE), Guardini-Galerie Berlin (DE), Vasarely Museum Budapest (HU), Mies v.d. Rohe Haus, Berlin (DE) | 2011 Staatliches Museum Schwerin (DE) | 2009 NGBK Berlin (DE) | 2008 Sanssouci Castle Potsdam (DE).

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