Kerstin Drechsel

NEIN, daily Vol. 3, 2011

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Watercolor on 360 g Clairefontaine paper, with signed book Sheet size 32,00 x 24,00 cm Signed Edition of 21 21 original watercolors are available

In her groups of works, Kerstin Drechsel (*1966 in Reinbek near Hamburg) tells stories about people and places in everyday, big-city life. The paintings are distinguished by their sensuality and remarkable sense of relaxation. A certain sort of harshness of subject subtly comes in the guise of watercolor-like surfaces and materials. Whether in oils and pencil, acrylics and egg tempera on canvas, or silkscreen on latex-coated fabric—the watercolor effect always lends the paintings their characteristic sensuality and sense of relaxation without ever devolving into soft focus.
The intriguing relationship between the provocative motifs and their gentle manifestations is particularly impressive in the Collector’s Edition by Kerstin Drechsel. A series of 21 originals reveals a visual cosmos in which the soft quality of the watercolors could be interpreted as a kind of stimulus and allure, or as a kind of strategic deconstruction. The luminous, velvety palette of the images has an immediately palpable beauty, forcefully drawing the gaze into the picture. At the same time, however, the artist sends the viewer back to a critical attitude toward the transparency, precision, and depth of field craved in today’s media world. Each and every motif can be seen as a plea in favor of questioning the things that are seemingly taken for granted in societal interaction, especially in gender roles and the depiction of reality in general.
Various forms of protest comprise the theme of NEIN, daily Vol. 3; they range from more less visible, superficial modes of protest, to non-conformist clothing styles or tastes in interior décor, to hidden references to gestures, signs, and everyday objects with male or female connotations. Like handwritten notes in a daily journal, the artist’s serial watercolors also seem like moments and ideas that have been rapidly jotted down or captured quick as lightning. Yet the fleeting brushwork is deceptive; the lightness of the images permits deeper insights, in the way that a journal entry always refers, without even trying, to a comprehensive world of perspectives, truths, emotions, and desires.
The watercolors pick up on motifs from earlier oil paintings or drawings, and many have been created over a longer period of time. Dried spots and traces of paint are deliberately integrated into the compositions with subversive pleasure, so that painting as a medium is visible outside of the depictions, turning it into a theme, as well. This unconventional painting style also brings up the issue of questioning artistic conventions—just as casually, almost as an aside, playfully nonchalant.