The translated title of Claudia Larissa Artz’s exhibition is “About the Feeling of the World”. We find ourselves in a world that is harried, hyper-connected and yet increasingly disconnected. The speed of communication has afforded us instant gratification of the likes we’ve never known, but it also leaves us feeling exhausted and drained as we try to keep up with endless news streams and relentless consumption. The noise of our ever-active thoughts deafens any chance of quiet reflection. The feeling of the world, then, has become one of stress, congestion and constant movement.
On the other hand, Artz’s paintings and works on paper remind us of the state we can be in if balance is restored through quiet reflection. They offer us a chance to pause and in these moments, give our minds some respite so that our spiritual selves can reconnect with the essence of life. Hers are ‘slow’ works that evolve from a process of lengthy contemplation and execution, although the outcome of each piece is determined by the unfolding process that is responsive to serendipity. Drawing inspiration from Japanese culture, Artz’s works are, essentially, a meditation on the transience of things and the concertinaing of time and space.
This exhibition contains works from two of Artz’s series: Vom Gefühl der Welt, and Schneeland. Schneeland (trans: snow country) pays homage to Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata, whose book by the same name informs the title of Artz’s series. These works are Artz's responses to the Kawabata's love story and comprise multiple thin, transparent layers of lines and colours, which creates new colours and forms where the planes overlap or intersect.
Vom Gefühl der Welt is, in Artz’s words, “an attempt at a pictorial approximation to move in an open space (the picture ground) between a dissolving Impressionist painting and a clear geometric form”. Artz draws on the Japanese concept of mono no aware, the notion that beauty comes from the knowledge of the transience of things. The works in this series begin with a grid, which Artz gradually abandons as her focus shifts to the pictorial elements.
The grid is a common device to organise and examine structure, however examining an object’s form in order to experience its essence leads to a blurring of its pictorial edges to the point that it is reduced to an abstracted rhythm. From this we may gather a sense of what it is but our original experience of it has passed, never to exist again. It is Artz’s merging of past, present and future into a single feeling which simultaneously encapsulates the passing of time and the feeling of timelessness: mono no aware.
This Japanese concept is at the centre of the current trend in ‘mindfulness’. But where the contemporary interpretation stops at simply existing in the moment, mono no aware asks the viewer to also be aware of the transience of things, which once past, are gone forever: the moment has past, as has the state of thing as it was at that moment.
By stripping away distractions and noise, Artz focuses our minds on these small passing moments to reveal the beauty of the abstraction of sensations, time and space.