Exhibition text

The formula of panta rhei - in Greek, everything flows - is the leitmotif of the exhibition for two with Urusla and Bernard Schultze. As a specific interpretation, the formula is not only applicable to Ursula's works, it is also closely linked to the work of Bernard Schultze, Ursula's husband, studio and life partner.

Similar to the intimate studio situation of the artist couple, the exhibition on the top floor of the gallery is intended to create a situation of juxtaposition and simultaneous proximity, while at the same time enabling an immersion into the complex visual worlds of Ursula and Bernard Schultze via the formula of Panta rhei.

The exhibition on the upper floor of the gallery in Wichtrach/Bern is curated by Patrick Urwyler and is complemented by an online viewing room.

read more

Exhibition concept:

Panta rhei - Everything flows
For two with Ursula and Bernhard Schultze

"Everything flows" is the title of a chapter in the catalog of the internationally acclaimed 2023 retrospective Ursula. That's me. So what?" at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne1. Everything flows - again, one must say, because the exhibition in Cologne follows a tough, almost three-decade-long phase of an institutional exhibition lull and corresponding marginalization of the artistic oeuvre of Ursula Schultze-Blum (1921-1999).

The artist shares this fate with many other women in art - but equally shared is a flow of reception of female, often historical positions that has resumed in recent years. The resulting reintegration of important positions into the canon of art history, which has long since lapsed, also resonates beyond the field of art, in society and is part of the current zeitgeist. "Cologne Museum Dives Into German Artist's Once-Lost Fantastical World" is even the headline of the New York Times2 in its prominent review of the exhibition, which underlines the importance of rediscovering "female worlds". Media and institutional tributes are important catalysts, as could also be seen recently in Bern, when the "Metamorphoses" of Heidi Bucher3, also designed as a retrospective, brought a breath of fresh air to the reception of the artist in the Bern Art Museum.

Bucher's "Metamorphoses" as a keyword forms the transition to the leitmotif of this exhibition, namely the formula of Panta rhei - in Greek, everything flows. The Latin translation (cuncta fluunt) can be found in the 15th book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, in the "Speech of Pythagoras" in which Ovid sets out the natural philosophical foundation of his Metamorphoses. Everything flows was also one of the themes of the Ursula retrospective in Cologne, through which the artist's work can be read. For this exhibition, it is to become the central theme, as the specific interpretation is also closely linked to the work of Bernard Schultze, Ursula's husband, studio and life partner. Similar to the intimate studio situation of the artist couple, the exhibition is also intended to create a situation of juxtaposition and simultaneous closeness and to enable an immersion into the complex pictorial worlds of Ursula and Bernard Schultze via the formula of Panta rhei:

"Ursula's paintings are full of people and animals, plants and things that are in a state of transformation [...] In Ursula's pictorial worlds there is no distinction between animate and inanimate matter, rather it seems as if things are imbued with a self-organizing energy. This is based on a view of the world that also underlies Ovid's philosophy. In Ovid's Metamorphoses it says: 'Everything flows, every appearance is formed alternately'"4.

Bernard Schultze's paintings are characterized by a " [...] parallelism of artistic creative processes and natural processes of formation and decay. Like biomorphic formations, the gestalt-like formal inventions grow in the course of the painting process, are partly superimposed by other formations and network into an organic unity. "5

This self-organizing energy of things in Ursula's work and Schultze's formal inventions that network into an organic unity both follow the formula of panta rhei. The flowing and constantly changing, the growing, proliferating and decaying, is extremely present in both works. The sometimes microscopic detail of the design, often without a recognizable point of departure or perspective, changes in the next moment into a macrocosm of provoked chaos, only to dissolve - as Schultze says - into complicated order. The chaos may superficially be closer to Schultze's work, but Ursula's works often adhere to a recognizable, albeit surreal, pictorial idea that rarely dissolves completely in its external form. In their essence, both works harmonize with the passage in Ovid's Metamorphoses that is central to this exhibition:

None remains in the same form, and loving change

Nature constantly creates new forms from other forms,

And in the vastness of the world, nothing - believe me - gets lost;

Change and exchange is only in the form. Emergence and becoming

Just means starting to be different than usual, and passing away

No longer be as before. Be transferred here to that,

This perhaps there: on the whole, everything is constant. 6

The art historian Helena Kuhlmann aptly comments that "this famous speech in its entirety is just as revealing of Ursula's work as it seems to be relevant in our (modern) times. "7 The same can also be said of Bernard Schultze's work.

With regard to the work of Ursula and Bernard Schultze, Panta rhei implies not only aspects of content, but also the question of the creative process, as one assumes a working method that is also in a state of flux. For Schultze this can be affirmed, Stephan Diedrich describes his working process vividly: "In the beginning there is the white canvas. Starting from one, often several points, Bernard Schultze feels his way into the pictorial space, pushes a color form a little further, only to let it branch out or break off, start again and develop it further in another direction. In the process, he rotates the picture support several times, changes the directional axes of horizontal and vertical, top and bottom, thus creating new pictorial-spatial situations during the painting process. Step by step, complex networks emerge [...] sometimes reminiscent of ramifications in the air, then again of roots in earthy matter or impenetrable thickets "8. The artistic attitude in Schultze's creative process is clearly indebted to Art Informel, as the artist shaped it as a protagonist in Germany in the 1950s. The artist no longer composes with a pre-planned result in mind, in complete contrast to the artist:

"I hereby declare that everything in my work is quite reasonable," says Ursula, and continues: "The picture sits in the shell of my head and waits to be released into the outside world, onto the canvas. "9 Bernard Schultze observes his wife: "The wild drawing gestures outline grotesque figures at the beginning. [...] And then, as if in a reversal, the impatient bending over begins [...]. Piece by piece is painted with great perseverance, and at the end everything fits together, interlocking to form a 'sacred surface', without any subsequent correction. That is astonishing "10.

Kuhlmann compares Schultze's admiration with Ovid's description of the "wondrous process of material metamorphosis in the Lydian weaver Arachne, who was so gifted that one thought she must have been gifted by Athena: 'It was a pleasure not only to see the finished fabrics, no, even to see them become, she practiced her skills with such grace'"11. A striking detail: Bernard Schultze gave Ursula the nickname Spider shortly after they met and the artist often used it to sign works. This anecdote is another example of the close interweaving of panta rhei in the work and shared life of Ursula and Bernard Schultze.

Manfred de la Motte, who formulated the (working) relationship between Ursula and Bernard Schultze in their artist book entitled "zu zweit" as follows, should have the final word on an exhibition of the coexistence and cooperation of two strong artistic positions with such different careers:

"Would you be proud if I proved exactly how little you owe to Ursula - or would you be happy if I made an analytical effort to do the exact opposite? That would be ludicrous and pointless - and both completely wrong. Let's leave it at "two": with each other, against each other, each the whetstone of the other, and any (in layman's terms) occasional similarities would then be purely coincidental, as in the movies, but not in life. "12

Text: Patrick Urwyler

__

Literature:

  1. Ursula That's me. So what?, catalogue of the exhibition: Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 18.3 - 23.7.2023, edited by Stephan Diederich, Verlag Walter König 2023, pp.27-39.
  2. New York Times, Cologne Museum Dives Into German Artist's Once-Lost Fantastical World, url: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/02/arts/design/museum-ludwig-ursula-exhibition.html
  3. Heidi Bucher. Metamorphoses I, exhibition, Kunstmuseum Bern, 08.04.2022 - 07.08.2022, url: https://www.kunstmuseumbern.ch/see/today/1080-heidi-bucher-120.html.
  4. Ursula That's me. So what?, catalogue of the exhibition: Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 18.3 - 23.7.2023, edited by Stephan Diederich, Verlag Walter König 2023, p.135.
  5. Stephan Diederich, Unbegreifliches Leben der Wälder, in: Bernard Schultze. Welt im Farbrausch, catalogue of the exhibition at the Museum Ludwig in the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, 2002, edited by Joseph Kiblitsky, Palace Editions 2002, p. 6.
  6. Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses, 15th book (Pythagoras), in the translation by Johann Heinrich Voss (1798), from: projekt-gutenberg.org, url: https://www.projekt-gutenberg.org/ovid/metamor/meta151.html
  7. Helena Kuhlmann, 'fast wie eine innere Uhr' Die Metamorphose als ontologisches Prinzip in der Kunst Ursulas, in: Ursula Das bin ich. So what?, catalogue of the exhibition: Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 18.3 - 23.7.2023, edited by Stephan Diederich, Verlag Walter König 2023, p.34.
  8. Stephan Diederich, Unbegreifliches Leben der Wälder, in: Bernard Schultze. Welt im Farbrausch, catalogue of the exhibition at the Museum Ludwig in the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, 2002, edited by Joseph Kiblitsky, Palace Editions 2002, p. 7.
  9. Kuhlmann 2023, p. 32
  10. Kuhlmann 2023, p. 32
  11. Kuhlmann 2023, p. 33
  12. Manfred de la Motte, Foreword, in: Zu Zweit. Ursula. Bernard Schultze, artist's book, Edition B, 1993.

Exhibition views

No items found.

Artists IN THE EXHIBITION

No artists have been added to this exhibition yet.

Online catalogue