Birgit Jürgenssen

Cathrin Pichler

Cathrin Pichler

Images Wish

In: Exh. cat. Birgit Jürgenssen. Nekyia. Nacht Seh Fahrt. Night See Crossing (Southampton: John Hansard Gallery, 1987), pp. 18-22.

Images Wish

'Whoever makes a picture shows some­t­hing which, shown, reflects connection.' 1

'The word image is in bad repute because we have thoughtlessly believed that a design was a tracing, a copy, a second thing, and that the mental image was such as a design, belonging among our mental bric-a-brac. But if in fact it is nothing of the kind, then neither the design nor the painting belongs to the in-itself any more than the image does. They are the inside of the outside and the outside of the inside, which the duplicity of feeling (le sentir) makes possible and without which we would never under­stand the quasi presence and immanent visibility which make up the whole problem of the imagination.' 2
The perceived thus reveals itself as a duality, exte­rior and inte­rior; that which in life determines continuous motion, a ceaseless oscillation, has within the image, the work of art, the power to attain repose and achieve unity. Our fantasies and imaginations have a reality within the image; in the act of painting inte­riority is impelled into the external, yet equally, in the happy accident of recognition, it is able through the eye to re-reflect an inwardness. Art is like a promise, it holds us in suspense, in the ever retur­ning hope of realising our fantasies.
The opposition between fact and fantasy, reality and dream is not thereby lost, the image merely makes us aware that a reconciliation between these polari­ties is possible. This is due to the dual nature of art, at once appe­arance and reality, having a double foundation. For art is always 'a play of the imagination, simulta­neously binding and releasing us, impri­so­ning us in the portrayal yet only portraying aesthetic semblance. From this twin root, depiction and fiction, is drawn the power art has to extend our percep­tion beyond the given, to deepen our expe­ri­ence through compas­sion, but at the price of a continuous iride­scence and shifting between reality and image.' 3
In an era of the banal multi­p­lication of images the painted picture retains its uniqueness, the simp­licity of its existence, a bastion of singularity and of the imagination's seriousness. The exte­rior - images of the world and of life surface once more from the inte­rior, initi­ally introverted; unmist­akably and immutably they inform the imaginative concep­tion, they are evidence of the conflict between inte­rior and exte­rior.
The image - the picture - holds these contra­dictions and agitations spellbound in one event. Our fantasies are to be seen battling against our super­ficiality, striving against the everyday. Art still has the power to entice us towards our desires, it bequeaths to us part of its magical duality of illusion and reality - along with the opportunity to see within ourselves. On the stormy journey of existence, the picture offers a foothold, a point of light, dazzlingly seductive indeed in its illusory radi­ance, yet also part of the external world and thus connected to reality. Exactly this consti­tutes the duality of pictures - in their framed and circum­scribed space, with their colours and forms, their tangibility, their surfaces, nevert­heless they are pure 'libe­rated imagination'. 4
But what is it that moves between the outer and inner? Our wishes, perhaps, are the motor fuel­ling this movement. Within them there already lies a drive towards externali­sation for they are the siblings of desire. They have, at least, direction; they demand reali­sation, never more strongly, more graphically, than in our dreams. Pictorial imagery is the medium of our dreams and imaginations; and within pictures they reaffirm their right to existence. Thus a painting can become the space within which we confront our own longings.
Birgit Jürgenssen leaves intimations, hints, in her pictures - somet­imes at physical objects, atmo­s­pheric rever­be­rations from the scenography of reality, that afford us entry into the realm of the imagination; handholds, offering us the opportunity to accompany her on a journey into the inte­rior. Her pictures demons­trate a journey of self-discovery; stret­ches of the path from inte­rior to exte­rior, from exte­rior to inte­rior; a mirroring, which serves to render the world a little more permeable, through "(Wahrnehmen und Wahrgeben" 5 (percep­tion and authentic expression).
Both feeling and idea, sensuality and spiritual year­ning are intrinsic to the concep­tion libe­rated within the image. The concep­tion's reali­sation - the describable work of art - is thus also present as desire, it is passion become idea.
But the passion of the image is nothing else than to be simulta­neously mirrored and mirroring; the magicality of art is just this balancing and oscillation between inte­rior and exte­rior, and belongs equally to both artist and observer. Thus the enchanted power of the image lies in its withdrawal from the surface of the tangible, at first from the visible into inwardness, and this reli­nquishment succeeds wholly at the moment the viewer is able to follow, when at the instant of percep­tion there is recognition. When the image encoun­ters the desire of the observer, then its longing, too, is clarified. In the moment of re-encounter, of recognition, the desire of the image is achieved; that which was wholly external becomes introverted once more, it finds its way back to a desire. At such moments of consummation, the journey reaches a stand­still, the image becomes truth and a desire comes into its own.