DRAUßEN IM DUNKEL // Vesna Bursich, Johanna Strobel
The title of the exhibition “draußen im dunkel” (“outside in the dark”) references the title of a novel by American author Cormac McCarthy, that was originally published in 1968. It is the authors second novel und tells the story of a pair of siblings named Cuffa and Rinthy Holme, who live far off the civilized path in a hut in the south of the US – as an incestuous love couple.
Johanna Strobel named her series of works from 2013 “draußen im dunkel”. On large formatted canvases the Regensburg-born artist portrays deep darkness. The deep black spreads all over the entire image space and everything that seemed certain seems to lose ground in it. Light bodies that seem almost waxy are coming forward out of the afterworld, alongside snow white camping chairs made of plastic. The depicted scenes show moments of everyday life, a group of people sitting cozily on a bench or a young boy, who’s legs are immersed in the deep black of a swimming pool. The aspect that irritates the viewer of these otherwise quite banal everyday moments is the abysmally and velvety black color, that surrounds the scenes.
Johanna Strobel finished her studies of art education at the University of Regensburg, where she was the winner of the annual prize awarded to one of the graduates. Right now, she’s a student at the academy in Munich.
In the history of art, the contrast of lightness and darkness, also called chiaroscuro, is an art term, that has been existent since the Renaissance. Pliny the Elder’s († 79 a.d.) understanding was, that without shadows, art could not exist. He tells the story about the beginning of painting as one, where a young woman from Corinth, who is holding her loved one very tight and would like to do so for every. Without hesitation, she reached for a pencil and drew the shadow silhouette onto a wall – because even if the love fades away, the shadow, the drawing remains.
A journey from the dark into the brightly lit up inside is conducted by the figures of the Italian artist Vesna Bursich. Much like the brightly illuminated globe of a fortune teller, the circular light appears on the lap of the girl, who’s holding on to it and who’s body is otherwise left completely in the shadow. The title for those works is “Mein Garten” (“My Garden”). Within the globes, there are summery fields of flowers in bright colors and one can also get a glimpse of the blue sky. The light of the globe lights up the girls’ faces into a wonderful shadow play. The painter has to create a source of light, sometimes even two or three of them. The angle of the light incidence has to be determined, as well as the parts that are going to be shadow, if other things within the image are going to be overshadowed or even if other shadows are going to be crossing over each other. Vesna Burisch, who studied the art of oil painting in Turin, Italy, masters the handling of shadow, light and darkness expertly.