Breaking Through Expectations

Esther Stocker

Has anyone ever thought about how space is something peculiar? Picture space? Naturally. Of course. Everything has already been thought about. In painting – or generally in art altogether – the question of whether something has already or not yet been “thought through to the end” is often made a criterion. Or whether something is “taken to an extreme”. Whenever I hear these arguments, I invariably think: End? Extreme? Just don’t bother me with that. Please do not think through to the end. It’s better to keep thinking further. For in the end, what is there to be taken to an extreme? There is no extreme. But what if there are works and artists operating with the so-called expectations of art? I mean works that reverse the direction. And an artist like Doris Piwonka, who is aware of what could be expected of a picture, but then swerves unexpectedly in a different direction.

Breaking through expectations is exactly what characterizes Piwonka’s works. We have expectations about form and color. Or expectations about certain relations. But we don’t know that these expectations are there, until someone breaks through them, because then we are beset by a quiet perplexity. This perplexity is not only a liberating moment, but also necessary, because otherwise we would be trapped in the eternally same loop of thinking and seeing.

For me, Piwonka’s works always have to do with experimenting on painting. This leads to the feeling of being able to witness a process, to some extent, when I view a picture. Naturally, I could be just imagining that. But at least it is an interesting thing to imagine. In some of the new works, the relations of the color space and form space are meticulously weighed against one another. You can “see through” some of the pictures. They do not get in the way, but let the viewer pass.

Although the forms seem to be quite reduced, they enable a long view “to behind”. And what does a spiral look like again? In other new pictures, Piwonka almost impudently mixes multiple languages of form in painting, the mixture of which is usually prohibited. On the one hand there is a relation of linear and moving gradations, on the other a soft, very cautious color space, which unexpectedly flows into a very hard color space rich in contrasts. Insinuated comic elements meet intertwining color streaks. Just when the gaze is about to make itself comfortable somewhere, it is steered in a different direction. This reversal occurs frequently in Doris Piwonka’s works. First she sends us in one direction, then she pilots us back again, only to then make us take yet another altered course. This also means: first you have the feeling, “that’s how it is”, “that’s what is meant”, but then you find out that it is different, and finally you realize that the second conjecture is incorrect and there is yet another completely different dimension. For me, this means the method of breaking through expectations. This method is rooted in the structure of painting. Curiosity about the possibilities of painting can reveal something like this.

What is painting capable of, how far can you penetrate? To what extent can you limit its extreme? Although I have already stated that this extreme does not exist, it seems that a piece of it can indeed be broken off: not taking something to an extreme in painting, but rather taking a piece of it off and then looking at the chunks and fragments.

Esther Stocker, 2006