Saturday, 5 September 2009

Klaus Fussmann and abandoned houses

Following our landscape excursions on Sunday and Thursday, I went to the museum from where my parent's had sent me the catalogue of Albert Koenig's prints (mainly woodcut).

Koenig's landscape representations from the 1910-1940s caught my eye when they seemed so traditional and eery - old trees, woods and heather. He did many of those in the surrounding areas of the heathland we walked and cycled through. - The area is characterised by a particular geological formation - Kieselgur, which google suggests to translate as diatomite - which was industrially exploited... for making both filters and dynamite. (Wiki knows more about Kieselgur in German)

But we weren't in luck at the Museum with Koenig's work. Instead, there was an exhibition by Klaus Fussmann. - A retrospective full of interior still lives, gardens, a few landscapes and a few portraits.

And I begun to fill my gaps (in fact: a wide open void) on German contemporary art. And went back to take another look at this interior drawings and paintings a few days later.

Many of them were done in the (early) 1970s of abandoned Berlin flats and his studios. What a very good coincidence: I could explore still life of interiors a bit more; explore the wide range of yellow-beige via reddish beige to cool blue beige; and contemplate Fussmann's paintings in their quiet melancholy and the meaning of time, memory and emptiness.

Klaus Fussmann, Atelier Steinmann, 1970
gouache, pencil and coloured pencil on board
private collection

I didn't know his work before, but was taken by this stark contrast between those empty rooms and overflowering gardens... the passing of time and all things living. I'm intrigued (if not entirely convinced) by this juxtaposition and marvel at the riches of the German language - Vergaenglichkeit was the word used - and struggle to find translations. How about :

transitoriness, evanescence, transience, transiency

... they all seem a bit flat, not quite melancholy and yet joyfully enough.... strange that...

[but I've wondered about this for long enough to know that that flatness is sometimes not more than a lack of experience and connotation assembled around a particular word]

For more info on Fussmann, try these gallery sites

White, empty and Berlin are the connections to the White Room. More I haven't found yet. His interiors are often arrangements on tables or shelves, of bowls, vases and assorted small, white things.

In all his interiors, he paints from above. He is looking down on the objects, or even the entire rooms. It's an interesting incident. It gives him a wide perspective and it makes the objects look even more forlorn and surplus. The paintings which depict a whole room look as if painted from a high ladder. It makes for an interesting assortment. While the table arrangements are often very monochrome, the rooms have the colour of some chairs, a cloth or a jacket.

I find the paintings very strong. Very different to the quiet, joyful assemblages of trickery that Morandi rearranged throughout his lifetime on tables, these are tristesse on canvas. They are left over, forgotten, only to be found by Fussmann who rearranged them into some order and captures them in their forgottenness. Momentarily, for a final snapshot of what is left.

I'm taken by the act of a final recording, taking stock of what has been abandoned. The painter as archivist, as record keeper. Of material objects that are left.

Klaus Fussmann, Stilleben Käuzchensteig, 1974
oil and gouache on board,
private collection

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