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Painting between strangeness and familiarity

Sunday December 18, 2011 09:17:05 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

No part of art can express any emotion if there is no some part of reality mixed into it, Emil Schumacher, the famous German painter; a representative of abstract expressionism in post-war Germany is reported to have said.

Another German artist, Ruth Bisping, showcasing her work at the Cholamandal Cultural Center for Contemporary Art in Chennai dwells upon the same thought when she says, this irreducible element is a key to any work, however tiny, however imperceptible the indication might be. In other words, this element within the painting unlocks our mind, our body and our emotions’, she adds.

This hugely talented artist who now lives in Chennai shows her work from different periods of her stay in India. Ruth lives in Germany and France but lately since over a year she is living in Chennai.

In its modern version, painting is spontaneous reflection and interaction. What appears on the canvas is not preconceived or much determined by ‘real thing. The ‘real things’ are hidden in colors and shapes of imagination, they are there, but the creative artist’s projection rules over reality, that is how Ruth explains her work displayed at the art gallery in the Cholamandal artist’s village.

Calling her painting between strangeness and familiarity, Ruth goes on to say, ‘when a painter changes her physical environment, as radical and abrupt, as I did by moving to Chennai, the content and style of my painting is adoptive to whatever changes I have witnessed after coming over here.

Whoever has seen my work in Europe that unfortunately I could not bring them to Chennai, will see the difference put on the canvas here that is reflective of Indian environment, Ruth comments on her painting.

Her paintings reflect a dedication to vibrant fluent colors to raw materiality to spontaneous imagination. Her paintings have come up over a period of one year of hard work put up at her studio here in Chennai.

As one can see, the impulsive process of her paintings showcased at the exhibition there is a transformation of her very personal sensation of the moment on to the huge canvas right in front as one enters into the art gallery.

With her works, she lures us into the quest for traces of nativness, a search in the world completely regimented by the rules of a civilization. And to view it from another perspective, a search of an uncertainty, a freedom, to be felt in space and time, an unorganized strangeness rooted in each of us and with whom we all are so familiar.

Passing through Ruth Bisping’s painting one may experience this kind of uncertainty, continuously changing position and perspective, the beholder is exposed to permanently varying ways of viewing and possibly also experiencing similar feelings.

Her paintings are rooted in gestural and in tachisme painting. The styles are characterized by the spontaneous application of color fields on to the canvas.

Apparent are the elements, a scratch, a sign, and an iridescent surface  hat makes her artwork so legible. This element throws light upon her painting and its meaning.

The element reveals to us an aesthetic perception of the world, a thought which in terms of Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, only ever existed in our minds, in our bodies and in our emotions. Undoubtedly Ruth Bisping’s painting has roots in the tradition of Jean Fautrier, Alberto Burri, Antoni Tapies and certainly of Emil Schumacher.

Ruth Bisping studied at the College of Fine Arts in Braunschweig and Bielefeld in Germany. She has held solo shows of her work in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Toronto, Bordeaux etc. She has participated in several group shows in Germany France, Lithuania, Italy and Canada. She took part at Biennale for Installation at Gera in 2011. Her work can be accessed at



Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be
contacted at






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