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Everything is illuminated

Heikedine Günther wants to make the invisible visible. Because at the end of the day, her core paintings are about the essential. The core. But what is that supposed to be? “I have stopped talking about the self. See what you want!”

In the studio in Obwalden. A chalet, directly on the road, with a view of the forest, the village, the church tower and the mountains. A flat covered with masking fleece and rooms converted into picture storage. Heikedine Günther deftly walks through her studio, while I cautiously stroll through as if through a museum. The first thing I notice about her abstract core paintings is their luminosity: deep and elusive, at the same time light and appealing.

Heikedine Günther in front of her work "Core No. 424". Photo provided.
Heikedine Günther in front of her work “Core No. 424”. Photo provided.

They owe this to their complexity, whereby each new layer means letting go for the artist. But only through serenity can one find the inner core, the self. She has stopped talking about the self, however, because many people can no longer relate to it. Heikedine Günther emphasises that the core is not a revolutionary idea for her, but simply a feeling from personal experience. Her encounter with C. G. Jung’s work on the self, which is diagrammatically represented as an ellipse, an egg or even as a core, was crucial. An archetype that can be found in the testimonies of many cultures and ages.

We sit on the spacious terrace, drink tea and eat sweets. With the sun on our faces. The secret of the luminosity is the gold at the bottom of her paintings, like the illumination in medieval book illumination or Orthodox icon painting. This is no coincidence, as Heikedine Günther is very interested in the 10th century, the so-called Ottonian period. And her husband’s antiquarian bookshop specialises in medieval books. Other recurring themes spring from such sources of inspiration: Alchemy, cosmology or the analogy of inside and outside as well as micro- and macrocosm. The latter is at the centre of the series ‘Circles of the Mind’, reminiscent of works by Hilma af Klint and soon to be exhibited at the Goetheanum in Dornach.

Insight into Heikedine Günther's studio. Photographed by Michel Rebosura.
Insight into Heikedine Günther’s studio. Photographed by Michel Rebosura.

The repetitive and meditative rotational movement of painting is also a physically demanding activity that requires an according daily form. For external and internal stability, Heikedine Günther also practices yoga and always listens to the same music to get into the same vibe. Painting then happens with “zero head”. When is a painting finished? “I can’t paint, but I know when a painting is good,” is one of her sayings. It is always a struggle for honesty. The picture takes on a life of its own, perfects itself and is then “round”. In the monotypes of her pictures, which she makes after each layer, she again enjoys the beauty of the imperfect, the coincidence and the given.

What Heikedine Günther also admires about the medieval works of art is that they have lasted for over 500 years. Something that contrasts with the fast pace of the contemporary art market and society in general, but which has now been brought to a halt with the global Corona pandemic. This would be the time, the favourable opportunity for a turn towards a value orientation, towards new values, yes, towards a sense of value in art as well. But the effort to create something lasting requires discipline and perseverance. Her series ‘Rocks’ is a symbol of what is fixed, enduring and ancient: canvas-filling rocks with a shape reminiscent of fist wedges or menhirs. And they shimmer aurally, as if illuminated from behind by a numinous light. Shapes stage colours.

Her latest works, which push abstraction further, go in the opposite and yet same direction. Towards the dissolution of form. What does that mean for the core? And for the self? “I don’t know. I am not there yet”.

Exhibition

Concentric Circles – Heikedine Günther
Exhibition from 9 June to 30 September 2021
Vernissage: 9 June 2021, 6 pm

Links

Website of Heikedine Günther: http://www.heikedineguenther.com

Exhibition Website: https://www.goetheanum.org/