OFL Old Family Linen and the Endurance of Folds
OFL is Jürgen Trautwein’s series of predominantly reversible paintings on antique family linen, some pieces up to 150 years old. The series is part of his evolving “traces of times past” multidisciplinary art project using found materials. Trautwein dedicates OFL to all mothers, claiming these paintings honor mothers, grandmothers, aunts, great aunts and ancestors, who kept their linens meticulously and carefully folded, where the material embodies a sense of history…with an energy, he says, “radiating invisible traces of love, joy, birth, suffering and death.”
The folds and creases and quiet details become the structural base for monochrome paintings punctuated minimally with traces of seams, hand embroidered monograms, cut edges and buckled or wrinkled areas. In some pieces the artist uses a process of transferring paint off of plastic sheeting under the painting on the floor of his studio. His process of painting on plastic from his 2015 “Sister Seven” series is given a new life within this process of transferring paint randomly off plastic, and we also see a few multi-colored pieces echoing the “Topography” series where his paintings on vellum were wrinkled up, letting paint pool randomly into complex textures and satellite map-like patterns. The series is peppered with occasional painted patterns of dots or stripes that seem to have a sense of humor or ask a question. Are they pixels or polka dots...Passé reminders of what was once real?
Trautwein’s OFL paintings are quiet, meditative, absent of form, detached from an intentional outcome and expansive in their bestowal of the process of change.
In his series “SISTER 7” Jürgen Trautwein investigates resistance and transparency in painting. His practice of using found objects in his work continues as in this series clear plastic roof sheeting acts as the canvas, creating resistance with the acrylic paint. Jürgen has an uncanny ability to seemingly effortlessly integrate elements of subjects or materials he confronts in daily life in his work. Concept, process and materials unite in his practice and overall body of work, (i.e. line drawings, photos, videos, paintings).
In “SISTER 7” strokes of paint form chance puddles, drops and explosions when hitting the industrial plastic. Energetic marks travel a meandering, unpredictable path. Several coats of varnish then confine and trap the paint almost as if frozen while in escape or motion…resulting in pictures that become controlled accidents.
Trautwein plays with transparency by layering the paintings in some cases, where the overlap exposes the activity and color below. In the more minimal spacious pieces the paint suggests live organisms poised for inspection in a Petri-dish. Other works show the artist’s brush marks subtly or boldly as they disintegrate and deconstruct. Universal metaphors could be implied with political overtones in the exploration of “resistance and transparency.” Trautwein’s deliberate manner and trust in allowing these materials (plastic, paint, varnish) to simultaneously marry and repel, create extremely diverse moods; from violence to calm.
Gwen Terpstra, Gallery 60SIX, San Francisco
Archaea are no-mind paintings - works that grow out of controlled accidents.
Refering to the kingdom of single-celled microorganisms, Archaea is a watercolor series with the idea in mind of growing life-forms by means of painting. Through the process of applying watercolor on wet surfaces, through puddle- building, gravity, overflow, drainage, evaporation and dehydration those paintings come to life. They exist as they are and are merely the results of slowly drying puddles of colored-water on heavy duty water color paper.
Archaea are process oriented watercolors, they grow spontaneously out of a few brushstrokes, which are left to transform themselves according to temperature, humidity and gravity. The drying process transforms the pieces into organic shapes that could resemble gentle, gigantic, prehistoric bacteria floating in over-dimensional Petri-dishes.
Brittles are paintings in acrylic on collages using sheets of the official news-journal of the village of Sulzfeld - located in the Kraichgau in south-western Germany - by glueing them into irregular shapes and then painting on them. The series is a two in one painting project; which means, that each side of each collage is used as a painting surface questioning the meaning of the front (which is usualy "the painting") and the back of a painting.
The series explores shapes, contours and imaginary borders of continents, countries, counties, districts, cities, towns and villages, inclusions and exclusions, demarcations and delimitations as if seen from a fictional satellite point of view. Brittles are irregular shaped reductive-monochrome paintings scarred by accidental scratches and spills, showing traces of various colors.
Skins are monochromatic paintings in acrylic on various geometrically ordered collages, which consist of multiple sheets of letter-size paper.
Skins grow out of papers called “time-sheets”, which are unwanted drawings, paintings, prints, sketches, notes, flyers, form-letters, texts, everything ready to be torn up and thrown away, or anything considered not being a “finished” art-piece in the 8,5 x 11 inches paper format. These “time-sheets” end up in various “recycle stacks” spanning over a long period of time. The joining of the single “time-sheets” (most of them printed, or worked on from both sides) is very intuitive, so the backsides are accidental fusions of various documents of time, preserving the provisional quality of a stack of used paper, while still displaying all personal content from a time-span of about twenty years. Through the gluing and multilayered painting processes the single sheets meld together into smooth, wavy and wrinkly, monochrome light-fields, revealing faint indications of their geometrical structure.
Skins are shielded personal landscapes, uneven, almost aged surfaces that conceal private information, transcending into empty quietness; meaning- and timeless abstract spaces of open interpretation. They are silent reminders of erased content, voids of no incident encouraging a state of contemplative meditation in the viewer.