Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert, Inc.
What is it to stand inside and look at the sky through a window? What is it to look at the windows from the outside, and see the sky as merely a reflection in the panes of glass?
In his third solo show at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert , Bart Domburg re-sees the sky through the grid of the human paradigm. In eight paintings depicting Berlin’s cityscape windows, Domburg confronts the beauty and horror of the new landscape. Domburg’s literal viewpoint, that of a pedestrian standing on the street, signifies a common experience of seeing the world, the sky, reflected in the valley-like windows of the avenues. We teeter on the brink of a natural and unnatural world that is representative of an inner landscape as well as an outer one. In the street, or behind the windows of an office building—we look at Domburg’s window paintings and wonder where we find ourselves. It is this same opposition of public and private spaces that manifests in our daily, contemporary lives. Our needs, our indulgences—we find ourselves in a constant struggle to identify what is us versus what is them, what is real versus what is manufactured, what is endemic versus what is intrinsic.
Since 2003, Domburg has built upon his landscape paintings, which were focused on subjects of historical, religious and personal significance, to include horizonal paintings of a seemingly endless expanse, and window still-lifes that encompass an intellectual and emotional equivalent of a recurring series of reflections—a symbolic infinity mirror.
That Domburg’s oil-on-canvas works are ultra-real representations of East Berlin buildings serves to accentuate the abstraction of everyday life. East Berlin, exceptionally, embodies a shift to a human life that is fundamentally based on abstract thinking. The grid of the windows are not only emblematic of architecture, but of accepted societal constructs—from government and money to media and movies. The actual sky in Domburg’s windows become indistinct, unknown in their neatly spliced frames. The abstraction is an embrace of multiplicity—of painting style, of space, of history, of culture, of individual experience.
With precision, and a simplicity built on a multifaceted intelligence, Domburg imparts a quiet confidence to viewers of his work, an understanding that is perhaps articulated, perhaps wordless—but is, regardless, riveting, reverent, and revelatory.