A SURVEY OF PAINTED WORKS
December 15 / March 15 2021
Caroline Bachmann: “Starry Sky, a survey of painted works 2014/2020,” took place at Duane Thomas Gallery between December 2020 and March 2021. The show presented two distinct groups of paintings (landscapes and portraits) made between 2014 and 2020.
Having lived in Spain, Italy and Germany, Bachmann settled in Cully, Switzerland in 2002. She has shown work across Europe for the last twenty years, both solo and with her creative partner, Stefan Banz. It is in her studio near Lake Geneva that she painted the two series presented for this exhibition.
Neither particularly attached to the traditional form of portraiture nor landscape painting, the artist formulated a process that uses nature while divesting from representation. During bouts of insomnia, often between the hours of 2am and 8am, Bachmann stares at Lake Geneva visible from a window and jots notes with a pencil on paper, cumulating in quick diagrams that offer rough cues on composition and colors. This referent to an experience of contemplating the lake is then taken to another realm in her studio where imagination, memory and art historical concerns layer the compositions: neither to serve as a representation of the lake nor to convey an experience of it, but rather used as a catalyst for a complex symbiosis.
Located at the edges of sunrise and sunset, the works explore in a multitude of greys the possibility of color rising, but also point to different types of edges (metaphorical and otherwise), best presented in these compositions by a painted frame that can evoke a simple picture frame or an organic shape.
Bachmann became invested in this idea of painting frames while discovering the works of Louis Michel Eilshemius, a prototypical American artist whom Marcel Duchamp discovered in 1917 and who proclaimed himself “educator, ex-actor, amateur all-around doctor, mesmerist-prophet and mystic, reader of hands and faces, linguist of five languages.”
Linked by their non-linear and non-academic approach to thinking the painting process, often inclined towards the mystical, a generation of American art pioneers became a premise for Bachmann to tackle the form of portraiture. She created a series of eight portraits of Louis Michel Eilshemius, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Ralf Albert Blakelock, Milton Avery, Joseph Stella, Arthur Dove, and Albert Pinkham Ryder, presented in this exhibition. Since 2014 she has been developing a series of portraits of contemporary women artists as well.
After studying at the Academy of Arts and Crafts in Geneva, Caroline Bachmann went on to live and work in Barcelona and Rome before returning to Switzerland in 2002. Since 2007, she is a professor and dean of the painting and drawing department at the University of Art, HEAD in Geneva. She and Swiss artist Stefan Banz collaborated between 2004 and 2014, a period during which they founded KMD (Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp | the Forestay Museum of Art), an exhibition and research space that they have been running together since 2009. Caroline Bachmann lives and works between Cully and Berlin.