Abridged version of a speech by
Dr. Gabriele Uelsberg, Head of Museum of Arts, Mülheim a.d. Ruhr
at the opening of an exhibition, January 29th, 1997
The artist Markus Kottmann has arranged his paintings very concentrated and sparingly. He has hung but few paintings, he does, however, not offer less matter to view and contemplate.
Before this opening I have discussed with him what it means today to pursue the act of painting. Painting has become to all of us very familiar and a matter of course. It is, therefore, often "consumed", i.e., it is no longer perceived consciously and with concentration. With his double-paintings Kottmann intends to lead us once more to a viewing in awareness.
He has called these series of paintings "diptychs", but they are not diptychs in the usual sense. For one, a sequence of events is not shown, a story is not told, but one subject is formulated twice. Furthermore, the two parts of a painting are not placed side by side, but one above the other. This is irritating to our way of reading - to view from the upper to the lower, and back up again. But this is exactly Kottmann's intention. He wants our eyes to "slow down", to calm and concentrate. He wants the eyes to retard for a moment, in order to repeat, to intensify, to look once more at the subject and thus really experience the act of painting.
From this struggle with light, sky and forms, paintings of the icelandic landscape emerged, which are pure - nearly abstract - acts of painting, although at first glance there are familiar suggestions of mountains and glaciers. But at the second look pigment, colour and structure - simply painting - come to the fore. In addition, such struggle forces the artist to observe with a higher degree of concentration. All this leads Kottmann to paint these diptychs, which convey to the onlooker the painter s experience of comparing observation.
Thus this exhibition offers a lot to contemplate, and nobody who is willing to look needs to leave this house "hungry for art".