DOORS TO PERCEPTION

Connoisseurs’s Gallery, Paris (France), 2002
Opening address

Meanwhile, Lisa Lyskava looks back to quite a number of exhibitions in Germany, Switzerland, and the USA. We are happy to present you her ‘doors to perception’ here in Paris as another landmark of her artistic career in international circles. ‘International’ is also the language of the abstract, gestural-informal art of Lisa Lyskava. That the opening of her exhibition tonight takes place in Paris is a particular pleasure: it was in Paris where the artistic current of the informal, also known as ‘un art autre’, had its springs in the Fifties of the 20th century. Shortly after World War II, Jean Fautier, Georges Mathieu, and the German emigrant Wols formulated a new beginning of the art of painting. The motto was ‘liberation’. Liberation from the fixed rule, liberation from formalism and the burden of tradition. It was a declaration of profound belief in vividly flowing color, in impulsive gesture and line, and in raw material. Inspite of this tradition of the informal which may, consciously or not, have had an influence on her artistic development, one cannot fail to notice her artistic originality. Her paintings stand for themselves, they show Lisa Lyskava’s independence.

In the course of her process, Lisa Lyskava has developed three different ways of painting which, to say it in a simplified manner, characterize three groups of works, yet may as well, at times, overlap each other. In one way, she creates reliefs of color stressing the material. Here, color becomes matter evoking powerful haptic qualities, as is seen in ‘thinking of Odysseus’ of 1998.

In another way, she lets the brush go in an expressive gestural zest. Important examples of this working method are ‘Breakfree’ and, of course, ‘that’s it’, both of them painted in 2002. In these paintings, striking color figures are brought forth from color areas and color momentum – as in ‘breakfree’ –, or the exempt canvas formulates suspense – as in ‘that’s it’. The third group is made up from color fields. Their nuanced shades with careful elevations evoke a calming character in opposition to her dynamic-gestural works. An example of this kind of working method is ‘Klang eines Sommers’ (‘Sound of a Summer’) of 2001.
An overlapping of these three ways of painting is found, for example, in ‘Götterdämmerung’ (‘twilight of the gods’) of this year.

One cannot deny it: Lisa Lyskava celebrates color. Most of her works impress by their unusual richness in color. With her extraordinary courage in the use of color she holds the tension between an harmonic color structure and its massive breaks, as seen in ‘high way’ of 2001. Her way of handling color certainly stands out from the usually more muted coloration used in our culture group.

Lisa Lyskava gives color a vivid, three-dimensional presence of its own. She uses it thickly. Sometimes she squeezes it directly out of the tube, then spreads it on the canvas using a sponge or her own hands. She mixes oil and acrylic paints or pure pigments with other materials, i.e. thin paper, sand, or recycled pieces of canvas. Never does she lose control over the released material, in the contrary: while working on it until the final form is found, she always maintains the suspense between the material on one hand and the other elements of the composition on the other. This massive working process finds its expression, for example, in ‘Thinking of Odysseus’, a work in which all the individual elements in the end are held by the free, flashing orange yellow line which binds the composition. Another example of her masterly art of composition exposing itself to the risk of failure at each stage of the process is ‘Coherant’, painted in 2002. In this work, it’s not the lines but the color areas which hold a subtle suspense-creating factor. Lisa Lyskava herself describes her working process as a creativity act “full of passionate patience”. The richness of color in and the corporeality of her paintings demonstrate the lengthy and intense working process. It is not unusual that it takes her years to complete a painting.

So it becomes clear: Lisa Lyskava’s way of painting is an original blend of conceptual, deliberate reflexions and a high degree of improvisation. Not at all surprising, then, that the artist listens to jazz during her work – the rhythm of its music supports the spontaneous and improvised elements of her art.

People often ask her out of which moods and experiences her paintings come into being. A question, by the way, which is hardly ever asked of her male colleagues, and to which Lisa Lyskava, quite rightly, refuses the answer. To her, her paintings are abstract reflexions of visual reality an not a testimony of an immediate personal experience or even feeling. It may be the impressions of specific cloud formations, for example, of architectural structures or of steel girders reflecting the morning light that stick to her visual memory. And then, one day, reflex and impulse flow into the visual shaping and forming of a piece of art becoming part of the composition. That means: Lisa Lyskava not only invents color anew each time, she also invents anew the unmistakable form of her paintings.

The titles of her works, full of poetic implications like, for example, ‘Geist der Freude’ (‘spirit of joy’), or rich in humorous allusions to art history, like the name of one of her masterpieces ‘C’est une pipe’ of 2002, to Lisa Lyskava are part of the creative process. They form an extension of the reflective and sensual focussing during the act of painting, and they evoke personal reflexions in the individual viewer.
Her artistic works gripping into space make us want to follow the way of color by groping and touching them. The candour of her paintings is intended and asks for the same openness of the viewer. It is particularly the haptic and visual effect of the colored material, the change between richness of color and its transparency as well as the spontaneous gestures which evoke a host of sensual messages in the viewer. Lisa Lyskava’s works inspire to perceive intensely and to go on journeys into fantasy, the great variety in facets leading to a very vivid process of perception. What the paintings ask from us is time, patience, concentration, and pleasure of looking. Every individual is addressed (a typical criterion of informal painting, by the way), and this often brings about personal biographic experiences in the viewer. Many have told her so, and following what they expressed, Lisa Lyskava has called this exhibition ‘Doors to Perception’.

We now invite you to manifold visual experiences. Enjoy the works, have exciting moments. Let us give you a quote on the way. Paul Cézanne said: “To a painter, only the colors are real. A painting does not represent anything, is not supposed to represent anything but colors.”

Kirsten Xani, art historian and Regina Selter, art historian Paris (France) 2002