Anatomical Landscape II (Africa X), 1991, oil on cardboard, 138 x 98,5 cm

Anatomical Landscape II (Africa X), 1991

Since her time at the academy, Ruth Baumgarte has repeatedly drawn nudes of men and women. Even back then, she used the angular contours of the charcoal pencil to explore certain anatomical details, including: the shoulder area, thereby revitalizing its subject. Now she is switching to oil painting in order to re-formulate for herself the subject of the back nude, which after Michelangelo and Gericault was rediscovered in the modern era by figurative-expressive painters such as Egon Schiele and later Lucien Freud and Rainer Fetting.

From 1991 onwards, Ruth Baumgarte increasingly turned to oil painting and redefined the relationship between figure and ground. The representational figure is now often surrounded by an abstract space, as this expressive example clearly shows.

The painting is completely dominated by a figure on the back. The back and arms are composed of wide and flat, pasty brush strokes that form a moving all-over structure. The painter uses juxtaposed color values such as yellow, orange and rust red as well as green, turquoise and blue in order to achieve flowing transitions in the application of paint and to sculpturally modulate the individual elements of the body through color alone. With “modulation,” the artist resorted to a basic painterly principle from Paul Cézanne, according to which a picture models itself from correctly placed color tones, and translated it into expressive oil painting.

A lightening stripe of orange and yellow runs downwards from the cervical vertebra and shines brightly in the spine area; The color of the left arm merges into the background at the shoulder, just as the red stream of color “runs through” the upper back. The back becomes the only living membrane that absorbs the flood of color in the surrounding area. A balance is created between representation and abstraction, through which the body becomes a landscape and the landscape becomes a body.