Dr. Phil. Brigitte Quack | art historian | freelance journalist and author – Saarbrücken | Germany

The theme of the feminine

Dr. Phil. Brigitte Quack | art historian | freelance journalist and author - Saarbrücken | Germany

Judith Sturm paints mainly large-format paintings in pink, red and black, reminiscent of the pin-ups of the fifties. A woman in changing poses, always overlapped by the frame, draws the eye not only of the male eye. Partly covered by black skimpy clothes with pink dots, she clearly shows the female forms. But also her skin. And contrary to the usual way of depiction, it is not idealised. It shows slight irritations, spots and blotches. This skin is thin, the woman thin-skinned, which in this context can be understood as a reference to her vulnerability. This skin seems very alive because life can be read on it. But this is very subtly and sensitively implemented in the surface of the picture, it does not directly catch the eye. For at first glance, this provocative character dominates, which contains within itself an allusion to typical female behaviour. Making oneself beautiful, throwing oneself into a pose, these are the behavioural patterns that girls are still often encouraged to adopt from an early age. But this is precisely what the graduate of the HBK art academy in Saarbrücken takes aim at here with a slight wink. Surreptitiously, as is to be expected, and with affectionate irony.

Even at a young age, the winner of the state capital's sponsorship award produced portraits, tried her hand at a wide variety of techniques of artistic representation and painted copies of well-known painters, from whom she says she "learned a lot". At 17, she had her first solo exhibition, which was followed by numerous ones over the years. Over the years, Judith Sturm painted abstract pictures, diffuse pictorial worlds with figurative echoes and produced a wide variety of objects before people, and women in particular, began to appear in her pictures again. At first it was female cult objects such as miniskirts and handbags that Judith Sturm staged. Symbolically, they already pointed to female eroticism and typical role behaviour. But other symbols conquered her pictorial world: red seams appeared, indicating limitation and vulnerability; butterflies stood for mutability, fruits for maturity and lust. The woman herself was rarely seen in those paintings, but was present in the form of her cult objects.

It is only in the more recent works that she is looked at directly. But the technique has also changed. For here the artist has used a very elaborate process that enables her to depict the skin in such a differentiated way. She sprinkles salt on the canvas, which has been primed several times, lets it dry, scrapes it off and washes it out before the actual painting process begins. Here she relies on contrasts, bringing dark compact black next to pink and red in the different tones to view. Pattern and ground form a unity due to colour correspondences and the same technical treatment. A unity full of tension, which makes these works interesting and absolutely worth seeing.

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