Juergen E. Stolte - Corrugated art, Wellpappenkunst, Art et Carton
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Juergen E. Stolte EXTRACT SOMETHING NEW FROM TRADITION
 
Notes on the paintings of Jürgen E.Stolte
 
Harold Rosenberg, the one time guiding intellectual force of American Action Painting, when called to give a philosophic-psychological framework to this artistic movement, once said: "In our time each new work must make a decision as to what is still alive in painting from the past and what is dead. The artist's awareness of history is equally an awareness of himself, his taste, his intellectual interests and social judgements, of that which moves him. The source of significant creativity in this epoque of historical self-awareness is not personal genius but the artist's double awareness of his aesthetic legacy and how it has been acquired."
 
After fifty years these sentences still have the same force when applied to Jürgen E.Stolte; apart from the fact that for Stolte the title of the book from which the Rosenberg quotation has been taken must inverted - instead of "The Tradition of the New" it should be "The New of the Tradition". For pervading Stolte's work more and more strongly is not only a keen preoccupation with the Old Masters but the need to identify the ways in which they are still relevant and alive today.
 
His largely autodidactic technique is enough to demonstrate that he is not in the least filled with awe for the Old Masters. As a painter he prefers corrugate - often mounted on canvas - both as a medium for line art, grease crayons, oil and acrylics and as a physical counterpart which has to be stripped off to make it pliable. Both the Cubists and Dadaists had used industrial material in art, incorporating it into their picture collages.
 
Jürgen E. Stolte's use of these materials inclines more to décollage. He simply cuts into the picture, which from the drawing and painting perspective is more or less "finished", with knives and trowels to remove a specific layer of multilayered card, leaving the other layers. Sometimes he does this with an accurate instinct, at others with frantic verve. By thus opening his material and exposing its wave structure, he isolates it from any mundane purpose and releases its latent aesthetic potential.
 
Unlike the Italian Arte Povera for instance, he is not content with steering the eye of the observer towards the sensuous and imaginative qualities of the everyday. The layered and inner life of the corrugate is part of the dialogue, sometimes in downright conflict with the rules on figure painting of the Old Masters cited by Jürgen E.Stolte. The pictures of female beauty, embodied in their purest form in the nude by Rubens, Titian, Velazquez, Boucher, Degas, Manet and (repeatedly) Rembrandt, have continually fascinated this artist who stands on the threshold of the 21st century. He teases out new interpretations from the continued existence of the past even when he resolves or heightens them expressively as if doubly exposing them on top of each other, combining them with a sprinkling of pictures from the consumer or media world or alternating them with ornamental-abstract picture sections. (It suggests that his perspective is also shaped by Pop Art, especially Robert Rauschenberg's Combine Paintings.)
 
When using the corrugate-décollage technique he changes his themes yet more radically. The stories on which the works of the Old Masters are based - and with which the present-day public is scarcely conversant - are relieved by the drama of the material; through a variety of visual and haptic stimuli; through numerous contrasts between two-dimensionality and relief; between the crudeness of many of the incisions or tears and the delicacy of the internal structures; between positive and negative forms; between the restrained sand and brown tones of the paper and the bright colouring spread over it. The beauty of Stolte's pictures is rooted in their physicalness. A physicalness that surely lies as much in the overt theme as in the colouring and material medium that so stimulates our senses.
 
© Dr. Roland Held, Darmstadt 2006