Text Daniela Stöppel
Text from the catalogue „Jutta Immenkötter”
“And very soon it will become clear that there are many, many remarkable things about the trees, the carthorses, the dogs’ ears etc., the likes of which one could never before have imagined.”
August Endell (Vom Sehen, 1905)

Form and object

Jutta Immenkötter’s art focuses on the forms of the visible world. She captures them in her drawings and three-dimensional objects, abstracting them to create new aesthetic compositions. Her drawings are based on her precise observation of urban, architectural, organic, floral and also social forms and structures, in which visual experience is condensed into a formal entity with its own raison d’être. She is primarily interested in simple, fundamental objects: Trees, fruit, hair, chains, spiders, pillars, towers, arches, domes, balustrades.

Detached from any kind of illustrative context, the objects in Jutta Immenkötter’s drawings reveal their own presence by developing an almost surreal life of their own. A shock of hair for example, resembles a wig that has been detached from its owner, demonstrating the principle of the isolation of visual phenomena, which are thereby translated into a completely new type of dreamlike productivity and activity. The aim is not so much to illustrate; it is more to discover, see and capture forms and formal correlations, and then by disentangling and enhancing them to create new images.

Jutta Immenkötter’s approach is most obvious when she overpaints, oversews and perforates postcards and other visual materials selected on the basis of their form and content. Many of the images, often cityscapes or natural forms, have been retouched so extensively with ink, needle or thread that they have become unrecognizable. Only certain details remain, sometimes present as nothing more than perforated contours on the reverse. The original image thus ceases to be an illustration and becomes an autonomous formal entity adhering to its own formal rules. By reducing the image to its individual elements, Jutta Immenkötter reveals its formal essence. Once the ‘natural’ setting for a streetlight has been obliterated, for example, the strange bending shape that remains takes on wilfully sculptural qualities. It is as though the object had been liberated, were standing for itself, generating new references and interpretations as an independent formal entity.

The creative process for Jutta Immenkötter often begins with sketches made in situ. Back in the studio she selects and intensifies certain motifs and forms, some taken from her initial observations, others from the imagination, to produce drawings, watercolours and gouaches. The deliberate, dynamic relationship between background, form and colour is the result of a process of clarification and concentration that repeatedly questions and reappraises form in order to distil its essential qualities.

Although she mostly starts with the medium of drawing, Jutta Immenkötter ultimately favours a sculptural approach so that three-dimensional space, plasticity and materiality are always evident in her works on paper. The sculptures created from the forms laid out on paper are even further removed from representation. The artist constructs linear networks from wire and colourfully painted aluminium foil that resemble cochleae or nerve cords – in other words, that adopt organic formal principles. Although her sculptures verge on total abstraction, the bare bones of basic ideas such as a container or bag are still evident. It is always possible to trace the genesis of the sculptures from the drawings; her sculptures unfold in space like three-dimensional drawings, representing the “concentrated plasticity” of her observations and artistic decisions.

This technique is evident in her most recent series of works, in which there is a shift from the medium of drawing to that of the expansive, three-dimensional work. A blue bar is thus transformed from a gouache into a soft structure made of green fabric hanging loosely on a wall, effectively regaining its three-dimensionality and plasticity. In another work, the curved red line of a drawing becomes a large-format mural in which the form can define and structure space. Her works on paper and smaller wire objects are even hung and presented as three-dimensional total installations based on a genuinely sculptural approach.

Her works derive their sensual, physical presence not just from their shape, but from her vigorous use of colour. The bright, bold colours she chooses are strictly delimited, thus emphasizing the formal entitlement of colour to be recognized as a means of production in its own right. The colour is instrumental to the drawings’ and objects’ physical immediacy, which instead of demanding a process of rationally abstract interpretation or decoding, makes it possible for form to be grasped and experienced as an artificial, yet real, concrete entity.

Colour and form in Jutta Immenkötter’s works refer to more than experiential visual phenomena; indeed they open up a new visual world with its own unique wealth of meaning. This places her works unmistakeably within that Modernist tradition that grants autonomy to form and colour. The Jugendstil artist August Endell made an early mention of the opportunities offered by an abstract interpretation of form when he wrote that “we who wish to see as artists, however, do not seek what is important for our profession or for other purposes, but look instead to see if there are no forms and colours among the many available that might bring us pleasure and joy.” The sensual enjoyment and pleasure derived from form – and from looking at form – play an important role for Jutta Immenkötter. There are also parallels with the experimental concepts of Dadaism and Surrealism, with Tristan Tzara, for instance, noting that “we need works that are strong, straight, precise and forever beyond understanding.” Louise Bourgeois has carried into the present such a strong line oscillating between abstraction and representation that her works retain their right to be beyond understanding, despite their formal precision. Yet even the materialism of the art of the 1960s and 1970s traces a path into the present and into a processual and intuitive understanding of material, form and thing, for as Luciano Fabro put it: “I think of things, not of what I think of things.”

This particular development in art, one that is conscious of the inexhaustible potential of interpretations that feed on the form of things, rather than on a particular iconography, has neither been abandoned nor has it run its course. After all, by no means the least of the artist’s talents is the ability to see things and then visually to reflect on this perception, to find, generate and evaluate forms, to develop an intuitive grasp of things, and ultimately an attitude to reality and its visible phenomena that enables him or her to engage in what could be termed visual research. Because Jutta Immenkötter perceives things primarily as forms and as formal contexts, she is able to transform them, subject them to a creative process and consequently venture still further into this field.

Daniela Stöppel

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