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Ars Vivendi Staircase gallery
(Ars Vivendi Treppenhausgalerie, Germany)

Opening speech
by Océane Gonnet M.A.

art historian, founder of the platform art in the museum
Art history - Art education - Museum research - Exhibition
All info available at

Valérie Stohrer, "Abstract Painting"
Ars Vivendi Staircase gallery
July 25 – August 14, 2021

Dear friends of art,

Welcome to the exhibition "Abstract Painting" of the Düsseldorf based artist Valérie Stohrer at the Treppenhausgalerie (Staircase gallery) Ars Vivendi. My encounter with her and her cosmos dates back only a few weeks, but I am certain that I can find the adequate words on these paintings and share them with you today.

Art is the common thread in the artist's life. From seeing to creating, she lets the inner urge express itself through different means. The result of her creations are abstract paintings; only what does abstract mean here?

"The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force."

This quote from the mother of abstraction Hilma of Klint speaks for the art we see today: free, yet not uncontrolled. This is the dilemma of abstraction: balancing the spontaneous and the calculated, allowing the energy to emerge without losing the distance that results in the realization of the final artwork. Indeed, for Valérie Stohrer painting is experimental and deliberate at the same time, impulsive and thoughtful, intuitive, poetic. The works remain free of any labeling and are consequently untitled.

See for yourself, take a closer look: The colorful palette resonates harmoniously with the contrasts. In the last picture of this exhibition - in which about 40 works from the last five years are shown - yellow-green cracks open a blue-pink space and free the bottom layer of the canvas: a visible presence, delicate, sensitive, yet inevitably on display. Foreground and background at once. The sensitivity and emotionality of the canvas reflect the personality of the author.

The texture of the surface exposes, through the wide range of painting techniques, complex impressions with which we return to visions of nature. Porous as granite, gentle as the surface of the sea. Spatula and hands push into the mass, reliefs appear through the open landscape. The dynamic of the brush reveals the transience of every living thing. The painted edges extend the painting’s physical presence. The artist's inner garden lets us enter, offering tranquility and harmony.

Nature is a key element in the artist's work. The fragility of the corn poppy, the flowery meadow dancing in the breeze, the humming waterfall or the roaring wave in the ocean: the motifs have disappeared into abstraction, but their impressions remain like nostalgic memories. This makes it all the more important to see the works, such as this golden landscape, in situ. The vertically divided piece simultaneously visualizes the sacralized forest and the tree bark of its inhabitants.

The interaction with the pictorial medium adds another level of perception to the work: we are moving in front of the small paintings on the window stills; the three-dimensional zig-zag surface presents us with a multiplied vision of the ink drawing. From other angles, new constellations of images present themselves, despite the rhythmic, vertical interruption of the rapidly elapsing brushstroke. Surprising and extraordinary.

In another series further above, the mostly black color trickles onto the lighter background. Here and there it is suddenly splattered, poured, a stroke is discreetly added. If looked at more closely, figurative elements appear, insects or animals, reminding me of Giacometti's surreal sculptures of the 1930s. In the same way, the expression of an inner, subconscious world plays an important role for this contemporary artist, who lets her soul speak freely in her art.

In the entryway, you will encounter the triptych 'Beethoven', created last year by Valérie Stohrer for the exhibition "Beethoven and the Question of Women" at the Frauenmuseum (Women’s Museum) in Bonn. The interplay of the colors resonating between black and white is the echo of the music or the one who composed it. Beethoven's brilliance is expressed in form of a golden sky in the first panel; in the central panel his dreariness, inspiring and confining at the same time is perceptible. Finally: imposed tranquility of his world gone quiet, the realization of a masterpiece. The triptych is the blissful attempt to visualize what art does with people, and vice versa.
I quote the artist: "Overall, a work for eternity is created. Radical. Uncompromising. Mysterious. Revolutionary."

Valérie Stohrer situates herself in a universal, timeless tradition of artmaking as a source of energy that emanates from her into the world, to us. She may disappear in the process of painting, wander among the space in front of the painting and in the painting, detach herself from the rational determination of her hand. Yet in the end, she always decides what is to happen on the canvas.

At this point, you are invited to let yourself be internally captivated by images that want to inhabit us, or that we would like to inhabit.

I would like to thank the artist for the trust she has placed in me.

A quick hint to those who would like to see more: Boredom in Paradise is an installation by the Düsseldorf based artist, which can be visited at the Frauenmuseum (Women’s Museum) until October.

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