Caro Suerkemper

"What does an object ..
"What does an object which is being looked at seek to achieve?" asked Caro Suerkemper during an interview in 2002. This is a question also put by the protagonists in her pictures. They entangle the onlooker in thoughts about the interaction of perception and wish, enticement and compliance, desire and control, power and helplessness. Caro Suerkemper dresses her keen interest in differences in optical stimuli and shimmering colours; peculiar sketching suffuses the self-representation of her figures. The comic effect in no way robs the pictures of their contrasting energy; it increases their potential to confuse.

Caro Suerkemper's small watercolours and gouaches almost exclusively place women in the spotlight. Many of these characters appear constrained, whether they are wearing traditional dresses or stripped naked in bizarre lust and bondage scenarios. The uniform effect of the tightly tied bodices of their dresses contrasts with the voluntary bondage rituals: images which are prim and proper on the one hand and crazy on the other mirror real orders and conventions in equal measure. They collide with Suerkemper's style of representation which affords the colour itself a life of its own. Watercolours surround the characters with flowing mood settings, melting the contours and unravelling motive correlations in the form of islands sparingly set against the white of the paper. The colour is disconnected from the function of the markings.

Consequently, there's an ambiguous approximation to many of the scenes which she paints. Caro Suerkemper prefers to merely hint at stories, she seeks a state of suspense with an uncertain outcome. Her works link the loose ends of storylines with tense momentary images which often remind us of snapshots or stills from films through their suggestive illumination. The close similarity to photography and the cinema reveal that Suerkemper's motifs aren't so much inventions as finds. The artist chooses her raw material from the bottomless pit of images which anyone can access in books, magazines and on the Internet. Some of the motifs withstand Caro Suerkemper's analytical eye and undergo a process of transfer and assimilation, which leads to what in some cases are tiny pencil sketches and on to watercolours and gouaches. The old contexts are cast off during the transition from someone else's picture to her own. It requires the onlooker to make it new.

Karsten Müller
Galerie Römerapotheke, Rämistrasse 18, CH - 8001 Zürich | | Impressum | top