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City - Country - River
New Paintings by Julia Steinberg

 
The small boats are docked close together with their bows to the quay. From a raised vantage point, one looks down upon the stylized ships, whose representation is doubled in the refl ecting water. Some of the boats are empty; in others we see cubical elements in various arrangements. One would like to enjoy the scene - but it radiates a disturbing mood. The suspicion grows that we are in a painted anti-idyll. The quay wall, held in an intense orange, contrasts with the colorfulness of the boats. An intense, pink stripe closes the picture at the back. One thinks of an intensely colored sunset's refl ection in the water, whose mirroring intensity diminishes toward the foreground and comes together with the underlying green tonality of the water in an indefi nable play of color of widely varied concentration. Painting: for Julia Steinberg, it is a condensation of form and color. The subject serves solely as an occasion and catalyst for color combinations of unaccustomed vehemence.
 
Color becomes a scaffolding of order that catches indeterminacy in spatial plausibility and transforms it into a surface/space perception. Julia Steinberg's unmistakable way of structuring the pictorial space with intense placements of color and her way of accentuating compositional precision by means of brightness and saturated color gives her picture inventions something typical and inimitable.
 
Slender vertical formats - often termed towel format - and overlong, narrow, brochure-like horizontal formats were always formats the artist prized. If painting is a window onto the world, then with Julia Steinberg, this window has become a strongly focused, channeled glimpse. When one views her paintings, one occasionally has the impression that one is standing in front of a narrow viewing slit, curtained windows, or gaps in a wall that only partially permit a view of the open space beyond. The viewer in front of the picture becomes a silent observer of her scenes. The eye makes its way into the composition of colored fi elds. Not only does the field of vision, limited by the choice of format, concentrate the gaze into a narrow corridor of view; there is also a tense painterly and compositional interplay between apparently abstract formations and parts of the picture that are identifi able at fi rst glance. In the last few years, Julia Steinberg has developed a predilection for this tightrope walk between abstracting and concretizing depiction of her preferred subject. Her once impasto application of paint, tied to a painterly gesture, has over the last years gradually made way for an increasingly fl at, color-fi eld interpretation of painting. In parallel to this, the tone of her pictures' colors has changed. In their compositions, the more recent works are more extreme in their color combinations, which disturb the viewing eye. Julia Steinberg is banking on seemingly contradictory color contrasts and color constellations that give her basically traditional subject a new appearance that has not been seen this way before.
 
This is the goal: using the means of painting and color as a "mouthpiece", to create new pictures that release in the viewer an interplay of natural and disturbing feelings. The motifs in her pictures seem familiar: riparian landscapes lined with trees, harbors, cityscapes, and pieces of nature. One knows a great number of variants of such things from a broad spectrum of hands and styles. With her often unaccustomed combinations of colors, she liberates the motifs from their complacent crustifi cations. With her approach, Julia Steinberg is able to breathe new life into the motifs, to reanimate them in painterly fashion, and to make them a colorful feast for the eye.
 
Friedrich W. Kasten, 2006