By Dr. Ingrid Gardill, art historian
About the exhibition “Complementary Worlds”
Colour experiments and complementarycolor painting
After the turn of the millennium, Klaus Soppe has increasingly dealt with the phenomenon of colour’s effect on perception. Back nudes in series were created, whose liveliness of the skin surface derives from high-contrast cold-warm tones. He places them on a monochrome background, which he partly strokes with the complementary tone (e.g. blue / orange-red). This initially produces a flickering that only dissolves in the distance and opens up a view of an atmospherically effective space. The special effect, however, is that the nude on the back stands out plastically as if it were within reach. The three-dimensional appearance is created exclusively by the complementary grids. The painter achieves the outstanding modelling less with light-dark gradations than with cold-warm contrasts.
Inspired by the apple still lifes of Paul Cézanne, finger exercises and further colour experiments with the complementary grids followed. Similar to the pointillists, Klaus Soppe makes the pure colours glow by means of a targeted setting in the grid. In this series called “Variations of Paul’s Apples”, too, the artist often uses strong, almost garish tones reminiscent of Pop Art. Consequently, he himself likes to refer to his painting with a wink as Pop Neo-Impressionism.
Light effects and reduction
The large landscape format “Parallel World”, in which a young girl curiously looks through the letterbox slot of a front door, is less dramatic but just as virtuosically staged and artistically realized. The bright light from the apartment falls over her lost profile, bringing the work very close to the chiaroscuro painting of the Dutch caravaggists of the 16th century, who used chiaroscuro effects in such a way that the faces of the protagonists were intensively illuminated by a concealed light source. At the same time, Klaus Soppe thus achieved a special mood of intimacy and mystery in the scene. But it is not only the dramaturgy of the light that is convincing, but also the many small details, which, leaving out everything unimportant, are masterfully executed.
It is all the more surprising how the artist manages all this, even though at the same time he has reduced his palette to only 4 or 5 colour values. With this limitation, in turn, he creates an extremely impressive clarity that makes his compositions literally shine. Klaus Soppe also succeeds in creating tension between the gridded, ornamental background and realistically executed figurative elements, in preserving the fine transparency of the paintings, in using the sensitive strokes coming from the drawing for painting, and in doing so, in an experimental and pleasurable way, in extending the boundaries of colour theory. In this way he presents the viewer with a virtuosically unconventional, narrative and captivating oeuvre.
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