There is not just black and white ...

Ute Neumann


… The following gives you a chance to read the address by Dr. G. Neumann – an art historian – which he performed at the opening of an exhibit of paintings by Ute Neumann. He gave the kind permission to the artist to use the text at her own discretion. 

 EXHIBIT : “MUSICAL IMPRESSIONS” by Ute Neumann. ” Seeing Melodies”, ” Hearing Colors” – pictures are sounding – music you can see. This is – I’m expressing myself in musical terms – the bass-line, the endless melody of the pictures in this exhibit. 

 I’m permitted to get you acquainted with the works by Ute Neumann with whom I don’t share family relations even though I carry the same name. 

 It doesn’t seem to be so difficult with the brightly colored sometimes figurative and abstract paintings; but this is a wrong impression. We are not allowed to see these pictures isolated by themselves, we have to understand them as part of todays art and the development at the beginning of the 21. century. As we do that we meet some problems. 

 Right now the modern art finds itself in a phase of historical changes. There are several well-known accepted art critics, feuilletonists and artists who are arguing with conviction, intelligent analyses and historical persuasive explorations which are comprehensible and believable, that the end of culture and art are here. 

 Edouard Beaucamp, the respected art critic of the FAZ writes: ” Since one generation we are treated with the enlarged explanation of the meaning of art (“everything is art, anybody is an artist, anything goes”), and now we are also trained to see the waste as the channel of life and aesthetic document of this generation”. Why did that happen? I don’t want to make TV and consume compulsion responsible for the cheapest cultural products and rich entertainment. But one thing is remarkable: 

 culture and art develop at a predestinated pace. They don’t improve if they have no enemy – that means to develop without any critic. The modern art has no enemy. The “arm-in-arm” position by art critics , exhibitioners and modern galerists find everything acceptable and good. They all prevent the opposing antagonism to serious art of present-time modern art. The young Enzensberger wrote some time ago: “We need an enemy”. We were satisfied with the present freedom of culture, that agrees with everything, even with less freedom more content? With the resurrection of an earnest enemy with art criticism who opposes stupidity, refuse and worthless art and creates categories and new art perception – this would make art interpretation and art understanding meaningful again. 

 We have to approach the meanings of Ute Neumann’s paintings under the before mentioned aspects – considering today’s art news. First of all: we have to realize that today no country or region has its own style of art and there are no directions binding in a certain kind of present considerations. It is characteristic for the condition of today’s modern art that the international art scene seems to have abandoned the painting on a flat two-dimensional surface – the so-called “Tafel-Bild” in German – the panel. 

 Ute Neumann is painting on a panel, she doesn’t consider to change into another field, and she does well, because the enemy-free art critic is acting divided and ambivalent. The modern art critic accepts the production of “Tafel-Bilder” by the Grand-masters Baselitz, Richter, Polke, Lüpertz, Tuebke, Heisig, Sitte and Mattheuer of the previous DDR. The departure of this practice and the return to the Tafel-Bild proves two facts: 1. The “Zeitgeist” or the spirit of the “enemy-critic” is short living and capricious 2.The panel of the Renaissance is still living today and keeps the timeless and classic form of artistic expression. The timelessness of the style shows its modernization! Today you are here to attend a modern art exhibit, though Ute Neumann is not an art critic and not an excited artist, she doesn’t stage or manage her shows herself. The art critic and the curator in the recent past tried to make us believe that art has to frighten, to accuse, to provoke or to demand – certainly those are functions of art, too – but art doesn’t exclude at the same degree that it may serve and help aesthetic beauty. Art always would be modern as long as it is good – even without carrying a mandate. 

 Ute Neumann loves to be inspired by music when she is painting. She is listening to some composition, lets it sink in, takes it into her feeling, her inner world and fashions the music in soul and spirit and creates the inner picture – often after hearing it only once – into color and form. This is not always a reflection of the music she just experienced, it is spiritually reflected work. Musical designations used by the composer, portraits, that are perceived by her mind , are flowing occasionally into transformations of the painted work. Here it is not the sound that associates the colors used by the painter but a reality that uses a title of a composition and inspires the painters work with the brush. 

 The colors of the music become independent music, even though they are confined by the realistic title. Always when a title of a musical composition is influencing the painting, abstract representation is changing the heard music into realistic painting. The free sound is not anymore emotionally used but is steered into an outlined form. It is no new idea by Ute Neumann to be guided from music to painting. In the Renaissance already the Florentine painter, the architect Leon Battista Alberti constructed house fronts with the principle of musical intervals. It was the imagination of the Romantic that music and painting support each other to increase the effect. Philipp Otto Runge suddenly understands by looking at Raffaels Sistine Madonna that the painter is a musician and speaker at the same time. Runge composes his famous work “die Tageszeiten” (The Times of the Day) like a symphony. The poet Adalbert Stifter asks: “Wouldn’t it be possible to create music for the eye using light and colors at the same time? And the french poet Beaudelaire remarks when he listened to Wagner’s music: ” It would be surprising, if music could not suggest colors! And colors and sounds (music) together could suggest thoughts!” 

 With the beginning of the 20. Century the “musicalization” of the painting became a central theme for the modern art. Kandinsky, Klimt and Matisse are trying to create music in colors. Kandinsky is the artist who felt and reflected the interdependency of painting and music the most. To him color and music have the same intellectual claim to be art. Kandinsky’s Colleague at the Bauhaus in Weimar, the Swiss painter Johannes Itten, is finally the one who suggests the “musicalization” of painting by rules. He developed the science of chromatic colors, analog to the chromatic scale of tones. He added 12 different color shades to 12 segments in the color wheel. Lyonel Feininger wrote fugues for the organ, whose structures he used for his paintings. Ernst Wilhelm Nay, stimulated by works composed by Stockhausen and Brulez detached himself from the figurative paintings and decided to join the nonobjective painting with his “Rhythmic pictures”. It is known that KRH Sonderburg listened to music by Parker, Monk and Rolling Stones when he was working. 

 Let’s go back to Ute Neumann. We know she finds herself with her paintings in historical tradition - and she knows it herself. 

 These are the most different expressions like fugues, songs, operas, symphonic poetry or 12-step-tonality used to inspire distinct painted works that are stimulated by figurative or landscape presentations. Painters inspired by music create realistic and abstract works. Ute Neumann is a good example for this kind ofworkmanship, and her work shows abstract and figurative paintings. She takes her painting profession very serious and dedicates herself to her skilled work. At first an autodidact she later received a 2-year scholarship from the Dr.-Hans-Hoch-Foundation that paved her way. Then came the successful break-through. She got an invitation to exhibit at the German Embassy in Tallinn – Estonia and following that she showed her paintings at the Goethe Institute in Oslo/ Norway at the biggest industrial company at the Norsk-Hydro in Oslo. 

 Ute Neumann is a colorist, a painter who is thinking in colors and she executes her intuitions on a plain level. Her gift is shown by a distinct understanding of colors and by an instinct for the rhythmic distribution of colors on a certain flat level. Her figurative compositions are not determined by drawings. Nothing graphic is designated to the paintings. She doesn’t want to be a specialist in graphics. For somebody who comes from the colors like her graphic seems to be far away. The color on the panel and expanse are an end in itself, that’s why she is attracted to abstract painting. Somebody like her loves the brilliance of colors and is far from printed designs. The color on the surface is an end in itself. That is the reason she prefers especially the abstract painting. Because by developing the colors there are no limits, color and flatness have no border. Ladies and Gentlemen, take the time to discover the musical disposition and forms in the paintings of this exhibition. Ask yourself whether Ute Neumann’s execution of her paintings meet Schiller’s idea in his 22. letter of his “Aesthetic Letters”: 

 “The creative art in its highest perfection must become music and should touch us by its sensual presence.”

 I wish you stimulating discussions about Ute Neumann’s paintings, joy while looking at them and taking home in your mind the gift of the splendor of her beautiful color-music.