Window Images

by Corinne Wagner

An artist shows us his window paintings and invites us to rethink the meaning of a window. Are we standing outside? Or inside? The window is the interface between the outer and inner worlds. In a windowframe, we see a part of the outer reality and it shows us a part of the inner life. The window itself stays the same, timeless and unmoved; it frames, limits and orders.Let's start by looking inward. Figures and forms appear in the window and are there by emphasized, framed as if something very special. The passerby is given two possibilities, he sees something by chance that was not intended for him, or, he sees something he thinks is meant for him. In the 7th century BC painting, "Woman in the Window" (Iraq Museum, Baghdad), the woman looks out of a defined frame over a balustrade, straight at the observer. She belongs to the symbol tradition of the oriental cult of Aphrodite. From her window, she lures, she tempts, she serves the love goddess. This theme appears again and again in art and refers to temptation. Hugo von Hofmannsthal created a small drama around a woman who waits in the window for her lover. In Dutch paintings of the 17th century, e.g. Gerard Dou, we also meet window figures, figures that come directly in contact with the observer through a look or gesture.

to the Gallery to the Gallery to the Gallery to the Gallery

This short sketch of the leit-motif of window paintings should prepare us for Walter Ehrismann's windows; they develop all of the above ideas. The painter Ehrismann, often trapped in inner space by his personal situation, looks through the window onto reality, he perceives the framework of the window, what's outer, what moves and changes. He projects from the parts of form and space. Perception comprises an activity, the painter takes what's available to him, what's true for him, and represents it. The past, his experiences and his hopes play a part in the creating. The artist creates something out of the parts of his perspective, parts pulled in through the frame of his window, drawn out, rhythmisized and broken up. Outside stand the pieces, the parts, the fragments of reality and, inside, the workings of imagination's power - and the eye of the artist. He shapes, remembers and brings together. Nowhere is it as clear as in these pictures that a window is a transparent membrane between the inner and the outer worlds.

We will try now to follow the painter at work. His windowpanes are created in aquatint, placed two times two to a quadrant (another quadrant count is possible), printed on thick handmade paper, a solid foundation, lightly plastic, distributed through the panes. The aquatint plates are the first operation, they are chosen, together and rearranged until the artist is satisfied, until he sees a connection, a flow of the lines, until he feels a harmony or tension of the surface. Then the plates are printed and join the other 'windows'; the frame has been created.

The second limitation Ehrismann places on himself is his color choice - the entire palette is not for him. He chooses harmony like a key - the tone in which he will work. Six colors: cinnabar, cobalt, light yellow, cadmium, india yellow and cinnabar light green. To these are added the three white tones: zinc white, the binder, Kremser lead white, the glossy, and Titan white, the matte. Walter Ehrismann is proud of his palette, it comprises a stock of true pigment colors - which he garnered when a paint shop closed - colors that today are only produced synthetically. His cinnabar contains quicksilver, his Kremser white contains lead and cobalt means cobalt. He must mix these with new colors, but working with genuine materials fills him with a peace that only good craftsmanship can bring.

Everything is ready, the artist sits in front of his window and looks - outside and inside, into himself. Lines travel over the panes, shapes pull themselves together. Slowly the window becomes whole, becomes an artwork. Female torsos - seductive in the old tradition, a silhouetted head, a vague profile show the possible connections. Rooms open onto the depths, movements fill out and become forms, a fine graphic structure trembles like a feather, a blue body, tactilly shadowed, pulls from the upper edge of the picture to the lower left corner. Who's making order here? The inner view of the artist mixes with parts of reality - self-determined - following the laws of color, rhythm, memories. The painter overlaps, over-paints and creates a new order. The development has come full circle - window and canvas are one.

In his poem about composition, Rainer Malkowski says:

 As hoofbeats to other sounds,
 sounds to smells,
 sounds and smells 
 to forms and colors..

From windowpane to window, from window to painting, the observeris asked to follow the connections: his eyes, his experience and his sensitivity will help him through it. 

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