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The order of the world

on the work of Anna Tatarczyk

By Günter Baumann, May 2021

With her innovative, multilayered, and playful visual language, Anna Tatarczyk enriches the world of non-representational art.

Over the past 100 years, Geometric Abstraction has undergone a number of transformations. When the so-called Concrete Art established the notion that just color and form alone are by no means Júst color and by no means Júst abstract but can be just as concrete as any pictorial motif, a reinterpretation of the geometric alphabet ensued.

It is therefore all the more surprising when an artist manages to formulate a completely independent pictorial language based on this particular notion. This is, however, the impression one gets from the work of Anna Tatarczyk. The space her art occupies, somewhere between Op Art and Concrete Art, between Minimalism and Arte Povera, makes her work unique. The fact that she arrived at this point whilst coming from a very different background, makes her transition into geometric abstraction even more impressive. In her vita, the name of Jörg Immendorff stands out, whom she assisted for two years, as well as of A. R. Penck and Siegfried Anzinger, under whom she - after her German studies – studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. All three of these names are not synonymous with abstract painting but stand for a new consciousness when it comes to the act of painting itself.

Ever since Anna Tatarczyk decided to base the organic landscape elements of her early works on geometric shapes, her choice for the rhombus as a stylistic device has been quite consistent. The rhombus occupies a special position among geometric forms - its incorporation of triangles and quadrilaterals makes it multifaceted in the truest sense of the word, while its symbolic power makes it possible to employ it beyond its function as a mathematical structure, to be linked to transcendent, sometimes even mystical concepts. Anna Tatarczyk herself has pointed to the use of rhombic forms in prehistoric times. The rhombus is just as suitable as an element that conveys a certain set of information, for example in traffic signs, as it is as a philosophical image – just think of the rhombohedron in Albrecht Dürer's famous and mysterious "Melencolia" painting of 1514, or the "rhombus guild" of the "Rauten-Zunft" of the poet Philipp von Zesen within his "Deutschgesinnte Genossenschaft" founded around 1642, which was conceived as a projection of the human imagination onto a higher geometric order of the world.

Anna Tatarczyk employs the rhombus not only for the sake of form; she continues the traditions of Concrete Art which classically focuses on the surface. In chromatic color sequences and crystalline structures, the artist employs the symmetry of the rhombus to establish an optical oscillation. The eye of the viewer focuses on one central point, from which the gaze is directed to all sides simultaneously following the rhythm of the work until it is halted at another point that breaks through the harmony of the work. The tension within these works is the product of a shifting balance between consonance and spherical irritations. The light that is always at play here makes this "Concrete" work a refreshing return to Op Art. This becomes abundantly clear in her spatialization of the levels of color; with a finely tuned feeling for the light-space effect of color scales, Anna Tatarczyk is able to conjure up images of pyramidal forms that seem to rise from the canvas – but of course, everything remains an optical illusion - the product of a remarkably playful attitude. The artist, however, does not stop at the comparatively simple pyramid shape, but fragments the rhombus in many ways, and creates rhombuses within the rhombus, thus segmenting our logical understanding of the form.

What is important to Anna Tatrczyk in this process, is the overcoming of pure form, as well as achieving a certain clarity. We can directly and objectively, follow the artist’s intentions, as her handwriting itself remains hidden; not a single trace of the brush is visible. One may also note the reduction to simple geometric figures, even if these are almost endlessly multiplied in serial variance. Thus, the works can be assigned to Minimalism, be it in its postmodern variety, as they resist the original programmatic depersonalization and replace it with a new sensibility, for color, but also for individualization. This is reflected in the titles with which Anna Tatarczyk dramaturgically charges the rhomboid sceneries: "The Stained Bride," "Earth," "Gypsy," "Savant," "Solar Wind," etc. These refer to human motivation, cosmic connections and mystify the contents of the works. In addition, there is an element to her work which can hardly be assigned to Minimalism, but rather to Arte Povera; Anna Tatarczyk primes her canvases with transparentt means, which entails that they retain their natural look. This not only enhances the actual motif, but also puts the illusion in its place: what is created here is a painting and nothing else. The geometric body, the crystal-clear essence of form, is situated on the burlap of its carrier. At times, this allows the painter to have fun with the apparent perfection of her works, for example, in the small-format series "Ene, mene muh" the diamond shape leaves itself and lets the color have free reign, clearly recognizable on the naked canvas.

With her innovative, multilayered, and playful visual language Anna Tatarczyk enriches the world of non-representational art. In all kinds of formats, which sometimes reach virtually monumental proportions, she creates a strict order that is guided by both intellect and emotion and that does not shy away from making a lasting impression on the viewer. 

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