By Cecil Bojsen Haarder
Lisbeth Eugenie Christensen’s paintings appear before us as excerpts of slight and fragile universes. Violent cascades of dripping vividly coloured paint replace geometric figures and ruler-straight lines. Her style is at turns expressive and controlled, fluid and sharp, abandoned and restrained. At first glance our senses are drawn to the abstract landscapes where the drama is signalled in the encounter between round and pointed, in the free run of the colour and in the struggle between two layers overlapping or colliding. The pictures are like musical compositions whose expressions are governed by the interplay of dark and light tones, varying tempos and a grating oscillation between harmony and dissonance. However, this striving towards the immaterial in Eugenie Christensen is constantly retained in a sensuous gravity as if her paintings were imprints of an intense, human touch.
The eye wanders on and what was initially music and abstraction now tickles the imagination and reveals itself to be traces of concealed pictures. In one painting a fountain-like figure towers, in another the graphic contours of naked tree trunks are glimpsed. Thus yet another world appears. Gradually as memories surfacing in the consciousness, infesting the pure shapes with their recognisability and preconceptions.
In Reservoir II the silhouette of Kai Nielsen’s sculpture The Water Mother is visible. A deep blue sea unfolds towards a distant horizon whose vertical displacement transforms the calm of the sea to a waterfall, a flood, a latent catastrophe. The threat of disaster and chaos lurks just below the surface of Jumping Trees too, in which the harmony of the universe is despoiled by invading waters, auguring imminent destruction. Overall the composition is dominated by a large circular shape with a string of round dots, an allusion to the cycle of life reminding us of the return and eternal repetition of everything. Like a pulsating heart, the wheel keeps alive the gossamer veins and the soft and angular shapes that constitute a gargantuan organism of which even the pain is an inherent part.
Eugenie Christensen’s paintings allow the transformation the space to unfold. From soft to hard, from colour to colourlessness, from silence to sound. In Whispering we almost hear the creaking of the door when the handle is turned in the left side of the painting. The green door, whose closing mechanism resembles an intricate paper collage, is pushed aside and we are welcomed into a room filled with sounds, noise and activity, contrasting with the delicate, pale pink background colour.
A similar transformation is found in Remover where the composition from Francisco Goya’s painting The Executions of the Third of May 1808, (1814) is boiled down to an almost surreal, mechanical scene of obliteration. The executioners have merged with their weapons and their animal-like limbs protrude in several places as an almost comical reminder that the destruction cuts both ways. The victim’s shirt has taken the form of a horse’s saddle hovering towards an opening where a bright sky Western-like promises a happy ending. We are far removed from Goya’s strongly political history painting – however, the composition, the energy and the colours have enriched the shapes with new layers of meaning freely to be considered or ignored.
Translated by Steffen P. Maarup.