Laudatory speech to open the exhibition KALEIDOSCOPE by Marianne Gielen
at the Gallery Verein Berliner Künstler (Berlin Artist Association).
Lieberose, 14.3.2012, Herbert Schirmer

As a child of the post-war period, at first I combine with the term kaleidoscope a paperboard tube pasted up with poorly printed paper that you would shake well and then hold against one eye while squeezing the other one shut. As the tube was rotated, the bits of glass on the inside changed to compose new patterns. With these glass images one was able to get away from the dull routine of everyday life, escape into a brightly colored abstract magic world or feel one’s way into a kind of great freedom. I can only speculate about whether this reference source or another one has led to the title of Marianne Gielen’s excellently arranged exhibition.

But – based on her study trips into confidant and unfamiliar, into interior and outer – comprising her passionate handling of color and shapes, kaleidoscope then again doesn’t appear as far-fetched. Activated by the vitality of colors, the transformed shapes that do without informal hierarchies and that are determinable as a formal and strategic principle within the aesthetic framework of Marianne Gielen just like in a kaleidoscope. Just because Marianne Gielen’s work was never about a however condensed and reinterpreted mirror of reality but an autonomous world of obvious figures, shapes and color movements, this comparison should be permitted even in a misleading version.

At first sight an enormous creativity can be made out that discharges almost explosively onto canvas or paper. An expressive firework of colors and shapes with obsessive recesses, an almost vibrant transcript in which strength and dynamic as well as pictorial gesture and symbolism of excitingly loaded spots and figures enter a symbiotically relationship. A relationship in which, between expressive directness and controlled formal language, between deep excitement and impulsively conducted fights, a transcription of both, the conscious and the unconscious occurs. It almost seems as if Marianne Gielen was espousing, at a late act and in a more sensual way the two mainstreams of action painting, namely the gestural perhaps of a Jackson Pollock together with the metaphorical approach of color of Marc Rothko. Granted, there is a brief connection to her teacher Walter Stöhrer, the former student of HAP Grieshaber who used to teach at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin (The Berlin University of the Arts) in the 1980s and whose color intensive interplay of painting, script, and drawing with figurative and expressive-gestural means of expression arranged for observable traces in the work of Marianne Gielen. These statements which have not been agreed upon with the artist previously should not be commented any further, as Marianne Gielen does not even rudimentarily appreciate the location in one of the art-historically compartments. In her distinctive way she prefers the examination with agreements and assurances within art as well as within society. Not least, temperament and intensity emphasize the processual performative character of the act of painting on the one hand, otherwise the dramatic art that becomes visible in the complex relation refers to a not specified conflict potential which ensures that the paintings gain a complexity and widen their context of meaning beyond intellectual disturbance.

At the second attempt, the eye hits a sophisticated colorism with unexpected color combinations which rhythmically temper the surface – a colorism in which instead of complementary tones, energetic up to divergent tensions predominate. In direct vicinity of dark outlines and sheet lightning brightness of colors, the vigorous painted, symbolic ornamental characters, the telescoping, interlacing or overlapping grids, linear acronyms, newspaper clippings, and paint particles contribute to accentuate and concentrate the abruptly changing rhythm within the composition of the image. Especially with the graphic segments Marianne Gielen confers high-contrast vividness on the materially existence of the color, forces the dialogue between material and structure and emphasizes the vitality of the compositions. Not least because of this, the picturesque texture determined by rhythmical brushstrokes, overlaps of the color plane, multipartite layering, and permeation seems graphically oriented.

Which leads me to the award-winning creation, the middle part of the triptych, simply entitled “Painting 1-3”. In a variety of cross-over Marianne Gielen has worked on the uniqueness of monotype with acrylic paint, collaged leafage, oil pastels, and various pencils. In short: she has adjusted the medium of painting to the current requirements and experiences as well as to her own conceptions. I can therefore only share the jury’s opinion quoted in the press release of the Verein Berliner Künstler (Berlin Artist Association): “… that this very work exemplarily shows the artistic stringency of the workings of Marianne Gielen without any sensationalism.”

With a view to her unbowed creative urge I would like to refer to her field trips and journeys, of which there are many, to the most diverse cultural regions across the globe. Influences from habitations and encounters especially in Japan and China become obvious in the icons that tend more to the scriptural and which I would like to mention exemplarily. In the notations inspired by the Asian typeface, she is following the autonomous emblematic hieroglyphics that have been developed in the East Asian culture, whereas individual letter codes eventually take on pictorial characteristics. She herself calls the influence of the East Asian calligraphy a great inspirer as she is most likely able to transport her cross-border cultural subtexts through the balance of characters and calligraphic elements and the aligned visualization of emotions. But it wasn’t for Marianne Gielen if there was no critical reference linked to the inflationary sing language in the public space of the metropolis.

On her journeys, Marianne Gielen does not remain unaffected by the topics of the political, social and cultural local life. Searching for elementary similarities between cultures, she adopts most diverse stimulations without bias, modifies and works them in permanence. Following her own cultural anthropological interest, she is looking for points of contact and opportunities for cross-fertilization within a new context whereas she always moves as an observing and partaking representative of modern interculturality. In doing so, the similarly ethnologic as well as sociological curiosity serves only the purpose to strengthen the intercultural communication and to revitalize it through artistic expression. Considering geopolitical stressful situations that cannot be overlooked, the request for a world free of discrimination may seem naïve – put on canvas and paper through transformation it is at the same time also a marvelous utopia that becomes manifest in the innovative power of her paintings.

Even if her own restlessness, her personal condition, definitely pressuring incidents and phenomena come out and are converted into atmospheric qualities, there is nothing contemplative or tortured in Marianne Gielen’s paintings. Even where she refers to states of individual as well as general existence, the emanation of the individual remains cautious und subordinated to the sense of the painting. In fact, it is the observable interdependencies of intellectuality and emotionality, of social affairs and empathetic sympathy or touching emotions that lead to reflationary, contrapuntally organized canvas happenings in her designs. There, the synchrony of differences dominates as expression, following the purpose to attack the awareness and to satisfy our present life due to the complexity of the design.

In between these positions she has organized her very own work environment and for her own identification she has developed a language in which the image serves as both object of contemplation and of affront or provocation. That is why, with her artistic attitude but also with her political awareness and her distinctive sense of justice Marianne Gielen always wants to remain visible behind her work.