Três linhas, um canto vezes quatro. E uma paisagem. (Three lines, a corner times four. And a landscape.) is the title of the most recent exhibition by Susanne S. D. Themlitz at the Galeria Vera Cortês. The show consists of a series of paintings and sculptures that reveal compositions — as silent as they are mysterious — of unknown yet familiar shapes. In this title, we can recognize the ever-visual thought processes of the artist, who — once again — offers us an ambiance/exhibition that invites the spectator to establish a close relationship with her works.
As the title suggests, landscape is a ubiquitous element in the exhibition. What distinguishes landscape from nature is the action of the human gaze, selecting, cutting out, and (re)presenting motifs of a humanized nature. Themlitz’s chromatic choices, typical of her dreamlike universe, reveal the invention of a landscape that, even if implausible, is real — being that images are performative and produce reality.
The sculptures presented in the show — A mão passa pela aresta, a madeira com fenda, três linhas e uma paisagem (The Hand on the Edge, Wood with Slit, Three Lines and a Landscape) e Memória suspensa (Geografia deslocada) [Suspended Memory (Displaced Geography)] — also bring into the gallery that inventive (con)figuration of the natural. The forms presented by the artist have no obvious referent, but are part of an imagery we can recognize and relate to. The difficulty is in recognizing this haptic and visual familiarity, perhaps because it has its origins in diffuse and metamorphic cultural references.
Even if all the works by Themlitz are endowed with a singular individuality, together they create an intimate atmosphere that envelops the spectator and is condensed in the title of one of the series in the show — Pensar no silêncio (Thinking about Silence). At the origin of Susanne S. D. Themlitz’s paintings, we find the words, the images and ideas registered by Peter Zumthor in his book Atmospheres. An architect known for the building of the Kolumba, a museum in Cologne, Germany, Zumthor describes atmosphere as a key element of architecture. To the architect, with whom Themlitz has been developing a (fictitious) dialogue, the atmosphere of any given place is built from the emotions and sensibilities that contribute to a harmonious and comfortable human life. The synchronicity between nature, landscape and architecture we always find in Themlitz’s work also help in furthering this harmony.
In the sense intended by Zumthor Três linhas, um canto vezes quatro. E uma paisagem. is also an atmosphere, one that drinks from the choreography produced by spectators and works of art, as the latter — because of their detail, dimension, chromatic strangeness or distrustful and curious character — demand from the former a silent but intimate proximity, a private and observant gaze, a state of being there that gives continuity to Themlitz’s work: a work that extends affections and intimacy into the gaze of the spectator.