Carolin Israel's paintings create a kind of stage for their intimate theatrical world. Large areas of colour push themselves forwards from the painting's ground in layers, each one occupying its own space yet communicating with the others. Sometimes tonally cold and sometimes warm, compacted and closed-in or transparent in form, they reflect different perceptions of reality, realms of feeling, states of being. Although they are layered and therefore in series, these surface areas are interlocked and intertangled and form an amalgam that cannot be pulled apart, blasting forth a great, harmonious chord of colour. This is always in a major key rather than a minor one, and radiant. There always remains – in one form or another – a small, and occasionally larger, window onto the infinity of the pictorial ground from which everything originates.


The tonal base chord of these paintings remains abstract. Growing out of the interaction of colours or colour fields, this dynamic exchange of differences is a mirror of our pluralistic societal fabric. As such it sets the scene for further lively interactions between fragmented constellations of colour and form that often reach right from the picture's surface through the sound-spaces of the large colour fields back to the pictorial ground. This is a dramatic narrative whose subject is drawn from tangible and intangible reality, the real and the virtual, thus on the one hand from the artist's personal experience and private life and on the other from multimedia spaces and their possibilities. Even the titles of the paintings that she chooses encourage this hypothesis. And with them, in fact, Carolin Israel leaves the realm of pure abstraction. Her fragmented constellations of colour form themselves into pictorial content through a kind of latent image effect in the colours, a both-one-thing-and-the-other in the definition of their intrinsic values, and at the same time they serve to function as a suggestively atmospheric description of reality. In this painterly mode the artist locates herself at the end of a long trajectory that spans many illustrious names, from late Velazquez via the coloured fogs of Turner and the colouristic harmonies of Adolf Hoelzel to the Abstract Expressionism of Willem de Kooning. In parallel to this complex of multiple meanings and multiple functions of colour achieved through the latent image effect, Carolin Israel also seeds her compositions with fragments of things that have remained recognisably real. In their direct, haptic unambiguity they represent a polar opposite to the far more ambiguous material worlds in the interplay of colours with their atmospheric open-endedness.


There are then two realities placed one against the other: a world that can be directly experienced and that is tangible and, alongside this world, one that is far more ambiguous and on a much more abstract plane. In its sustained overall precision, it is this very world that retains an open-endedness that invites speculative fantasy. Concrete pictorial associations are left up to the viewer. He can have three guesses.

text by Rainer Beck / translated by Richard Aronowitz