Elsbeth Böniger – Peter Willen

As an opening for the new season, the gallery Bernhard Bischoff shows a two peoples exhibition with works from Elsbeth Böniger and Peter Willen. Already for a while, both constantly follow an artistic direction, which can be allocated the closes to abstract colour field painting. However she expands her spectrum to objects and drawings, whereby she always remains faithful to her main interest, colour and material adaptation. In the exhibition pieces from all three main work groups are confronted with each other.

A surfboard edited with car paint colour meets in the corridor with Willens graphite objects. The surfboard, perfectly sanded and varnished, is one of those object of the artist, which swing in the area of tension between «Readymade» and material appropriation. A real surfboard that looses his function after the artistic intrusion and oscillates between art and design. Willens graphite objects seem like dim mirrors, loaded with a sophisticated intensity, compared to the brightly polished objects. Graphite pigments create a supposed depth in the colour range, although the actual pigment layer over the MDF is ultra thin. The corridor becomes a kind of hall of mirrors, whereby the graphite objects reflect in the surfboard, when those just act as imaginative mirrors.

In the Aare room two clearly separated work groups can be seen: Monochrome colour field painting in Prussian blue of the male artist on one side, soft skin colour shades of the female artist on the other. Willen applies layer wise on the pavatex canvas self-made egg tempera, which gives the works a dull glaze. The colours, lying on top of each other, complete themselves cumulatively; the deeper differently coloured layers interact with the structure und brightness of the layers lying on top.

This becomes apparent especially then, when multiple works with the same last overlay are hanging next to each other. The “teints” of Böniger seem playful next to the subtle pretended equality of the blue animated works. Different surfaces, from mirror finish to structured marmoreal surfaces stand equally side by side and stand pragmatically for Bönigers constant search of bringing together surfaces, materials and colour in a harmonious balance.

As closure of the exhibition a series of drawings from each artist can be seen. Böniger works with paper the same way she does her other colour mediums. Enamels melt away and let the paper become transparent here and there. Colour runs and brushwork weave a glimmering carpet. The series begins with a dark work and develops from sheet to sheet to lighter and lighter colour rooms. However Willen shows a series of graphite and Indian ink drawings, applied meticulously and filigree. As a group, they seem to be a dissolved form of landscape images, which emerge composition only on closer inspection as an abstract. In Bönigers works predominate big gestures, while in Willens works the little structures clash– so effectively macro- and micro cosmos.

The exhibition unites different works, which show touch points time and again; an exciting dialog over multiple levels.

Bernhard Bischoff, August 2003