Works from 2017 to 1999
Manifested Metamorphoses – on the motif of transformation in the artistic work of Barbara Karsch-Chaïeb, excerpt from the catalogue Zwischenzeitlich by Corinna Steimel, Director of the Städtische Gallery Böblingen
When one enters the studio of Barbara Karsch-Chaïeb, one is already overwhelmed by the haunting and, as it were, unagitated charisma of the completed works and those still in the process of development. This sublime restraint runs through the entire oeuvre of the artist, who was born in 1967 in the Swabian town of Hechingen.
The high haptic material quality of the works is immediately noticeable, conveying an object-like expressive power of the pictorial substances used, which are rather unusual in the field of art. Through the muted color palette in combination with the fragile-filigile form finding, one thinks to feel something of deep earthiness, which is simultaneously entwined by a transcendent aura. Due to the inherent complexity of the works, the sensitive viewer’s mind is involuntarily drawn to the most complex and mutable imaginative worlds. Involuntarily, one gets the impression of having found something that one had already searched for in the jungle of daily madness, but had simply thought lost – the sense of what is true and essential. Soils, minerals, or types of stone have hitherto – apart from Land Art – received little attention in contemporary art. Barbara Karsch-Chaïeb prefers to draw her inspiration from naturally occurring natural materials hidden beneath the soil, from “layers of earth and rock” that in some cases have existed for millions of years. For example, she extracts color pigments from the fossilized substance of shale and from coal, which is exemplarily expressed in her series of works “Lines” from 2014 and 2015. These extremely sensitive works on paper speak a clearly essential-existential language, which underpins the artist’s search for essence and originality. Her primal materials originate both from the immediate surroundings, for example the Swabian Alb (oil shale), and from distant lands such as North America (jarosite), Brazil (fuchsite mineral), Russia (jade), Mexico (obsidian), Chile (lapis lazuli) and Morocco (Moroccan ochre). The artist likewise found on her numerous travels, for example, in France (red ocher), Great Britain (Bideford black), Italy (marble stone, Siena earth, earth from Otranto), Algeria, Poland and Israel.
Work above: Argentina, 1999, Red earth from Argentina and slate lightest. on canvas, 8 pieces each 25 x 25 x 4 cm. Private property.