Dialectic of the image boundary
We could talk of a kind of grisaille in Raabenstein’s painting. If earlier works were kept monochrome, containing a single figure locked into the image by layers of shellac, such compositions have, in the last ten years, retreated into the background in favour of another pictorial method. Paper and ink have become the preferred material of artistic activity. This was accompanied not only by a renunciation of colour but a noticeable dissolution of figure that continually recurred in them. The figure: more a kind of encoded face than a head, inhabiting the images like a ghost – locked in beneath layers, no longer of varnish but of paper. The disembodied figure, reduced to pure facial expression, which in sheer endless productions of serial creation questioned, rather than confirmed, existence as a brief flash, retreated in favour of the painterly gesture, in which it can at best only occasionally be divined. The direct twin-like qualities in the images gave way to the fragile establishment of a subjective claim through artistic action. Expression hence no longer shows itself in reproduction but lies in the line itself, which immediately and irrevocably is thrown onto the page.
Japanese ink drawing, which Raabenstein employed, demands a great deal of artistic competence, since it is not only necessary to guide the materials securely – the occasionally heavy brush or even the broom – but, above all, to clear the way for the impulse of the unconscious. The expression of the gesture is hence always self-expression. The success of transcription always contains within itself the danger of failure. The constant search for existence in the faces of the earlier works was consolidated into an existential act in front of and upon the paper. Read all