Fire by days

Rita Ackermann


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Fire and the body.


A siren brings word.


For a year now, she said that all she keeps making are these paintings called Fire by Days.


Swelling forms, always in red and blue,

This is a quest. The artist is summoning the form up from deep within.


Always a continuously emerging swarm of a picture, a twisting shape hovering.


Rubbed in with her hands, the pigment like bright dirt, residual stains circle and glow around the vision, giving it a saintly halo. A palpable depth through craftsmanship.


Sprayed lines blow the composition off the edge of the canvas. Some are made of slashes, marks and lines, some come in a vaporous form.


The composition of each image is singular, muscular and always different in appearance and method.


In a most seductive way, the pictures evoke the skin, flesh, and human stains – there is blood flowing, pulsing through arteries; there are protuberances. Is a cartoon of a face emerging? They are essentially human, erotic and emotionally charged with an intensity almost too much to bear.


I remember learning about Artaud when I first started directing plays, and the value of ritual – what came to be called a theatre of cruelty that demanded risk. His ideas about art and theatre helped us remind us of the immediacy of the event, when we knew to seek the life-force behind the actions, the essential power of the bodies as expressive forces, and to become daring, to be willing to take emotional risks and expose too much.


Pictorially, their position in space grounds us, and the figure floats above us.


The space and depth of each picture, the dramatic effects that the aggressive lines and the distortion are used to such great dramatic effect.


With their torquing limbs or protrusions, extending out and past the edge, morphing from one work to the next, the frame can hardly contain their ecstatic condition. These works come in the form of a fever dream and demonstrate a high respect for controlled abandon, to let the image take the artist where it must go. Since Rita has subsumed and mastered classical form, intuition and pictorial command work in close harmony.


As fresh as these images are, and they don’t look like anything else, you sense an active engagement with the language of other masters of the form — Tiepolo, de Kooning, or the violent beauty and rawness of a Soutine carcass.


In these paintings, there are mystical-erotic motifs that present the essence of the artist as a performer of her work. There is a conduit for the flow of energy that propels us into the unknown and mysterious, and one has to dig in deep to find the language to speak about these works, that don’t care if they might look like they could represent something to someone.


It is the play between figuration and abstraction that keeps the viewer flickering back and forth between these worlds.


In Marfa, she left two behind.


Rob Weiner, Marfa, Texas, 2011

Published on occasion of the exhibition Bakos by Rita Ackermann

at Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

1.November, 2011 – 12. February, 2012

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. 20 Pages
. 19.5 x 25.5 cm
. Color Offset
. First Edition 2011

Out of stock