Seeing what is behind it


Landscapes of the Cologne painter Frank Dömer

by Heidrun Wirth, 2010, Kölnische Rundschau,
Translation by Paricia Edgar, Cologne

Something airy and effortless, something encompassing which confronts the enclosed, appears in the landscapes by Frank Dömer, recently presented in the gallery Dreiseitel in Cologne, Germany.
The tension between the more restrained colours, between transparency and the compact, turns into a tension between the compositional elements and the structures. Mild pastel tones (of Renoir) in the „no man’s land“ of skies and wide undefined surfaces are contrasted with Courbet-like dark blue-grey stripes.
Clear arrangements of almost constructive elements like bridges or streets, contrast with the atmospheric. It is important to the painter, „that one can always see a little of what is behind it „.
The Cologne artist, Frank Dömer, born in 1961 and master-class pupil of Per Kirkeby, began with abstract pictures and came only quite gradually to figurative painting. Photographs of landscapes and architecture serve him as templates, as sketches, so to speak. A motorway bridge on the A59 can no longer be unambiguously recognized: it is about the balance between the freedom of frothy painting and engaged beam-like forms. On the acrylic base, the oil paint is applied in multiple layers but, nevertheless, the painting appears spontaneous right up to the uppermost layer with its quick, gestural accents. The upright projection and sometimes a lighthearted ductus à la Matisse remind us of his teacher Per Kirkeby. And as in his work, the not-quite-obvious and the mystery remain.
The long distance and panoramic views of the landscape stand in comparison to the images of the forest, where one seems to be standing in the middle of a thicket. The dense vertical boughs in a meandering jungle have originated from the rhythm of harder contrasts and soft smudges. It is a fairytale forest, not as bleak as in a work by Munch, but also romantic, impenetrable and somehow under a spell.