The sentimental importance of woodlands


On increasingly shifting her focus on woodland motifs, the artist gives this explanation:  “It has taken a long time until the point when I felt: now you are ready to also paint woodlands.  To me, those are the woods of my childhood in Poppenweiler (city of Ludwigsburg), both magical forest and spiritual place.”


Marlis Albrecht’s wax paintings create either contemplative or vibrant landscapes, but all inducing in the viewer a mood of meditation. Similarly as in Romanticist and Neo-Romanticist painting, physical topography is eclipsed by creation of a landscape of the mind.  Thicket or clearings are placed to guide the beholder trough the depths of deserted moonlit space.  Discoloured sunlight barely penetrates the mist in one place, or a fire of fallen leaves or a hillside shrouded in mist blocks the horizon and removes the impression of depth entirely.  In another, the outer limits of the picture are chosen to create a fragmented view of trees and of the woods.


In playing with perceptions of distance, Marlis Albrecht again has her wax at hand with its properties of obscuring contours.  She has done experiments with hot and cold wax, trying out how in the melting process pigments spread out or concentrate in a place — tender brushstrokes connect with stretches coloured in a pointilist manner, sometimes in figurative, sometimes in abstract composition, to create atmospheric landscapes, the artist making use of our desires for a pure original state like it couldn’t ever have existed in real woodland nature.


Marlis Albrecht’s virtuosity is manifest in a kind of final product that by the nature of its material cannot be arranged according to any plan made in advance:  “The initial idea reshapes in the course of the work process with dynamics of its own.  The picture proceeds layer by layer, the developing workpiece making new kinds of demands again and again, until I have arrived at the topmost, and at last, the painting is satisfied with itself.”


Through their atmosphere brought about by translucent wax shaping the light, Marlis Albrecht’s paintings exude an air of the transcendental and of physical lightness, they mirror — in the artist’s words — “a desire for desire, by which I mean some power of being able to make designs for the way we live.”  The symbolic significance of the woodlands, being more important than their atmosphere and representing a demand that the artist makes through her work,  makes her discussion of the position of the woodland motif appropriate for our era.


Dr. Irmgard Sedler