Saturday 22 October 2016

What lies beneath... Spiralling in Lucidity and Shadows

By Susanne Leutenegger, acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, courtesy of the artist

Shane MacMonagle

Published 08/06/2015 | 02:30

Spiralling in Lucidity and Shadows
Spiralling in Lucidity and Shadows

There was an Irish connection of sorts from the beginning. St Gallen, Switzerland, was supposedly founded by the Irish monk Gallus and it was where artist Susanne Leutenegger was born. Following her heart, she came to live in Cork in the early 1980s, enrolled at the Crawford and studied Fine Art. It was "a dream come true".

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For Leutenegger, now part of the Backwater Artists Group, an artist-led organisation, which is celebrating its twenty-fifth year, painting is about "being given space. It means silence; it means waiting for what is, as yet, undiscovered."

Is this an abstract work? Leutenegger says "I don't like the term Abstract Art. People's eyes go blank; it scares them. I usually begin with an unknown surface and the idea of a precise line. That leads to a movement that is round, playful, simple". The flower-pot shape, its circular opening with its glimpse of pitch-black and the bands so delicately-coloured are all in harmony. Using "colours that sing their heart out," the well-placed line, she says, is "impulsive and gesture-like". The eye follows the line: downwards, around, and up again in flow motion.

"Being spontaneous and silent, being energetic and patient is part of my life" and this is reflected in her art. It makes sense to discover that Leutenegger has been practising yoga for over forty years and she also teaches the Feldenkrais Method which focuses on awareness through movement, especially movement as a way of learning and achieving greater ease and wellbeing.

Coinciding with this work, Leutenegger has written an e.e. cummings-inspired poem also called Spiralling in Lucidity and Shadows in which she speaks about the hand of chance and how the hand can make possible the painting, "so it may hold the shape/ and bravely face into the wind". She is forever trying "to capture a moment when something turns inwards or is ready to unfurl outwards." Looking in, looking out. Introspection, extroversion.

"My art is about glimpses of life in motion". Continually. It captures that kinetic energy. Clearly, it's all go.

Backwater Artists Group's exhibition runs until 20 June at CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork. Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday 2-5pm.

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