THE SOUND OF COLOUR

Deutsche Telekom AG, Duisburg (Germany), 2001
Opening Speech

On some of Lisa Lyskava’s paintings, there are leftovers of all sorts of materials: those of plants to create structure; those of cloth, absorbing her colors; colored paper, leading onto new levels; corrugated cardboard creating structures; silk paper on top of it leaving behind an aura of delicacy. Paintings turning into new paintings. Together with the numerous, sometimes innumerous layers of color that a painting of this kind experiences in the course of its coming into being, they result in a rough surface which lives by ridges and areas, is described by a swinging brush, and consists of islands of thick color masses and clouds of transparent, scattered pigments. This surface may be dramatic, at times even hectic. At other times it may present itself very restrained. It may appear reserved, or as a porous skin. In all cases, however, it shows a reaction to light, reflecting, breaking or absorbing it. Now shining gaudily, then seemingly glowing out of its own force, or swallowing all light, leading it inwardly in and, once it’s caught there, letting it die away. From many works, a world different from ours is approaching the spectator. It’s a Mediterranean world. The light is brighter here, a lot whiter, the colors thereby becoming clearer. Furthermore, a lot of the works have lyric titles like “Milk of the early Hour”, “Sun”, “Morning Hour”, flooding the place of their presentation with fantasies of waving fields, endless seas, and soft hills.
Our conventional visual habits, one is almost tempted to say: trained in the dark, may find it difficult at first sight that the colors in Lisa Lyskava’s paintings are not at all coming along in a shy and reserved manner. The intense brightness of some works may be irritating: For a long time, one did not see such Light in a painting from here! After all, for quite some time, the biggest contrast in paintings lay in the essence of white and black. But why add another cliché to German art? “We who are gifted with eyes to see,” Kokoschka once wrote into the book of one of his students meaning that one can see what is felt with the mind’s eye as well. It takes some time to be able to let go this first, overwhelming impression of the strong colors in order to be free and concentrate on the next one. Then, however, the eye is caught by the structures, in most cases resulting from the use of materials, the elements of the painting, the forms, the motive of the situation, and, of course, again from the colors. Thus, the continuous application and removal of paint leads to little faults, almost unnoticeable in the beginning but then becoming more and more visible in the course of the painting’s formation. Like a grid work made from subtly spun color lines, they lay themselves over the work, creating light valleys and condensed depths. Other paintings have an even courser effect. Here, the characteristic style of the brushstroke predominates and leaves behind its unmistakable traces. In these paintings, the viewer can clearly follow the movements which the color describes. It moves in broad, repeatedly broken tracks across the canvas, at times without a first sign, at others by announcing the beginning and end of its journey. Yet only few paintings by Lisa Lyskava actually bear representational formulations relating to vegetarian, architectural or figurative models. The already mentioned Morning Hour is one of the examples of this kind, and the superb “on some horizon”, of course, reminding one of the cubistic “Self-Portrait as Mars” by Dix in spite of its sheer prismatic shattering. As if it were capturing the moment when the head, like a crystal, is bursting into countless pieces, the solid forms are literally shattering into pieces in front of our very eyes. Likewise, the small oval work “Mystery” corresponds to our memory of pictures and is not only a mere sensation of color. With its almost mystic density, it creates a maelstrom gripping the viewer in order to then pull him deeper and deeper into the picture, like a distant light does which makes us become curious and attracts us magically so that we must follow it despite all fear. In most of her works, however, the artist proves the extraordinary quality of her feeling for color. Actually, its changes and nuances are hardly visible, yet always perceptible. Unnoticeably, glistening areas join into color bodies, gaining mass without becoming form. From these iridescent, seemingly flexible areas, spaces are designed, that is, the viewer gets a feeling for the space in the painting which is opened up in front of him in only one single gesture. The space is opened up but is not accessible to us, we have to stay outside, have to remain a viewer. This fact puts quite a few of Lisa Lyskava’s works in line with the tradition of the early French impressionists. Experience gives way to feeling. “The Sound of Color” is the title of this exhibition. And indeed, one seems to perceive a murmur and a whispering, a twittering and rejoicing. It may well be that some tone hits us like a powerful fanfare: when a lot of white and blue has joined red. Or when green is very close to yellow. Yet these tones are never disturbing. Only a series of large-format paintings breaks the here described form: the “Germany”-paintings. Strong black scaffoldings control the furious movements to some extent. In smaller works, such drawings are executed in color, thus losing a lot of their force and, yes, their violence. In the large formats, however, the black’s momentum speaks an unmistakable language. Like in a hammering staccato, they seem to have been thrown onto the canvas, almost recklessly against any form, any liberty, any area. Far more than any others, these “Germany”-paintings are expressions, full of scars, as they are typical of both culprits and victims. “The Sound of Color” is not dying away. Lisa Lyskava’s paintings are like music, utterly varying music, now full of soft harmony, then of a crescendo, pulsating like the heartbeat of those who dare to get involved in them.

Stefan Skowron, Kunsthistoriker, Duisburg (Germany), 2001