“Up Into the Air With the Lungs” – Annika Reich (Translation: John McNaughten)

Extract from the exhibition catalogue "Wanting the real", Galerie Michael Schultz, 2011

Notes on Rebecca Raue’s gentle power plants of imagination

inside/outside, innen/außen – these oppositions constantly appear in Rebecca Raue’s images. If you only read inside, the outside will resonate and vice versa. There seems to be just a razor-thin membrane vibrating between the inner and outer worlds, making both sides ring. Rebecca Raue asks if it is enough to move inside to make something happen outside, and how, correlatively, the inner stance will correspond to outside acts. Painting, she wanders through exactly this twilight zone – right on the tracks of life. All divisions between, and all assessments of inside and outside, become out-of-date, the world becomes permeable and finds itself in a state of constant exchange. Breathing in, breathing out. The lungs of the king. The great subjects: Life and death, love and peace, home and homelessness, can unfold without having to take sides.

Trace comes from tracing. Tracing is also a physical ability that has confidence in sensuality and interrupts the dominance of sense. We sense through our skin, the organ that is both inside and outside. Dietmar Kamper once called the skin’s tactile sense imaginative power. If that be so, then Rebecca Raue’s images are gentle power plants of imagination, as the physical thinking of the imaginative power shines through all their layers, it sparkles from the corners, from the neon-coloured rips, the hatchings of colours; it will furnish zones of tranquillity to pictorial space, also twilight, and free spaces, in which the glow will be able to change.

This kind of thinking withstands the fixed, categorising, excluding principle of either/or, it lets it sink, an illusion, to the bottom of a crystal blue lake and draws a fence around it, bordering only one bank, and which – if you upend your view – functions as a ladder: Out, out. The bordering turns into a temptation to surrender to the other with all senses. Every image a venture, every line, every brushstroke a bridge into the uncertain. Getting into the venture you will be rewarded, as confidence lies just in this uncertainty. A present – delivered by the elephant?

In the wanting the real -series all canvases show a black ground coat. Right from the start they fathom a depth, rise from it and sink back into it. Paul Celan wrote: Doch konnten wir nicht / Hinüberdunkeln zu dir: / Es herrschte Lichtzwang (But we could not / darken towards you: / Light was mandatory). And this darkening towards you is what it is also about. Whoever you are, or, rather: whoever you will be. I don’t illuminate you, I seek for you in your secret, you are allowed to change. Love.

So the images look from the inside to the outside, meet the glance, looking from the outside for resonance in their depths, and are searching themselves. They are never auto-reflexive. They point at something beyond themselves – beyond the edges of the canvas, the self, the world. Horizontally, but also vertically. They are palimpsests rewriting and over-painting themselves. A tanken (to tank) will become a tanzen (to dance) and room is scored out and written again right next to itself. That’s the tactile imagination unfolding in space. Meanings are being checked, kept floating, left moveable. Many-layered over-paintings that don’t over-paint anything but rather show the process of tracing and fore-tracing. Trace are tracings.

 The real lies in the production, in the act, not in the concept. That’s what Roland Barthes said about Cy Twombly. The same is true for Rebecca Raue’s pictorial world. Wanting the real? Maybe the real is the possible, all that happens when you invite the world. Change is the real, with the horizon right before its eyes, the driving force. Blue-black, olive-black.

Colours, here, become events. They represent the fact that any experience differs from the preceding one. Colours do not have a recognisable meaning. They beckon you on, but they don’t explain themselves. The juxtaposition of colours and figures in Rebecca Raue’s paintings shows the irresolvable link between the determinate and the indeterminate, between life and death, between place (home) and placelessness, and it speaks of gravity needing lightness in order to remain magnetic. In her images, there is this attractive force between the levels. The colours thus prop each other. Magnetism instead of semantics.

The images are witnesses of the courage to change, seemingly rooted in the changing of the will. Not to want any more what the dominance of meaning (or: sense?) wants, rather to want it in the way of an active letting-it- happen. Becoming a bird that dares to walk is written under one layer – not visible any more, but still there.

Maybe this is what the images want: to spare the world. To spare does not mean beautifying in the sense of whitewashing, rather to find a new way of dealing with the problems of the world. Rebecca Raue’s way of looking at the world doesn’t prettify the problems, but it doesn’t oppose them either. It soothes them, gives them a kind of unintentional attention.

In one image (unable to really see inside) of the series words by Beuys are copied hundreds of times and largely painted over: Die Materie erreicht man nur, wenn man den Tod erreicht. (You can only reach matter if you reach death). Here, though, death is not an end, but the knowledge that we have to be able to die in order that we can live, so that life won’t die. The filled or empty curls and bubbles hovering in many canvases seem to be on the brink of bursting – the dashing beauty of the once-and-never-again. So the images of Rebecca Raue prove to be a continuance of her own corporeality with all misery and mortality, but also with all its potential for indulgence and ecstasy. A movement into life. alive. a dream.