Sabine Straßburger


1998 Claudia Meier

Empty Space in Paintings by Sabine Straßburger

Claudia Meier // untitled

Among the works of Sabine Straßburger, all of which are equally occupied with surface, with problems specific to painting, and in substance with symbols and language, one of her works falls out of this pattern, and it is simply called „untitled“. The title is constitutive of a program, as these works of art refer to omission and to empty space.
The point of departure of this series consists of the protective corners which were delivered along with ready-made adjustable frames. The utensils thus served a brief practical function which Straf3burger also made use of for her work. Each part in the series entails two canvasses. On the one half the place where the protective corners had originally been is indicated in black while the rest of the surface as usual contains a pictorial structure. In contrast the second half is made up of exactly the protective cardboard, which were affixed to the corners of an untreated, prepared white canvas; it is the opposite of the other half although not completely.

untitled 1998  50x80cm, 2-parts  oil, pigment, cardboard/canvas

All of Sabine Straßburger’s other works of art have basically consisted of layers of paint, which in die course of die last few years have become more and more subtle, to die point that they have been reduced to a filmy layer on die canvas. Paintings‘ halves or parts of series have always communicated with their elements among, each other, via the media of color, form and surface structure. Until die beginning of the series „untitled“ all formal, substantive and aesthetic issues were dealt with directly on die canvas. Sabine Straßburger utilizes here for the first time, on the one hand, extraneous materials, such as die protective corners, and furnishes them with color and structure. On the other hand, she uses a prepared canvas and does not provide it with any color. Limited to a certain area of the composition, she thereby negates elementary components of her work but, above all, color as die artistic challenge in itself, which is only left to play a peripheral role here.
The protective corners – those that are in fact present or represented by darkened spaces – expose associations of old photo albums. And the differently curved and straight cuttings into them undertaken by Sabine Straßburger do not falsify her concept since such photo corners do not have one single form. And as a photograph which has been held for a long time by photo corners fades, with the exception of the rim under the photo corners, the series seems to trace the tracks of time passing. lt is the removal of one piece from an area, the imprint, the presentation of that which has been. The white canvas in contrast empty open and neutral.

untitled 1998  each 50x80cm, 2-parts  oil, pigment, cardboard/canvas

In the series „untitled“ Sabine Straf3burger does without an area which has the potential of being painted and ascertains the limits to painting. This is neither a protest nor a provocation in the sense of Ready made. Much rather it is the opportunity to reflect critically upon painting. With this material she has been able to philosophize about conditions of painting. Through the construction of pairs the transformation is clear: the material is per se open on all sides, an untouched surface, an unwritten page. By way of color a quiet, almost unnoticed transition of material into a picture occurs. Both states, characterized on the one side by an empty space and on the other by affixed protective corners, are adjoined and set in relationship to one another. They refer to a before and an after.
„untitled“ is the first series by Sabine Straßburger which calls forth such associations and in which the artist is interested in going beyond using the symbolism of language. The past, future and present positions are addressed, not through clear gestures, rather through subtle means of omission and counterposing.


Translated by Faith Dasko