Lives and works in Switzerland
Martine Thoelen’s paintings are characterised by an intriguing coherence.
It seems as if an attic full of memories has opened up, from which she has drawn inspiration ever since. The word “memories” should not be understood literally or in the biographical sense of the word. These are not representations of her personal memories. Instead, her paintings refer to a mood, a sense of the passing of time, a lament about things past which Goethe described as “Verweile doch, Du bist so schön” (stay a while, you are so beautiful).
Stylistically too, the sense of coherence is far-reaching. We can clearly see that the artist has worked with paint on these canvases, we recognise the pastuousness and transparency of the paint, can see the brush strokes. This is quite a statement in these digital times. Photo, film and video in the arts can be beautiful, compelling, moving even, and perfectly suited to capture the moment. But these contemporary media have no body, no physicality. In many cases, the images merely consist of pixels that light up.
Martine Thoelen’s paintings, however, were created with tangible matter. You almost feel like touching the paint to see whether is dry. Paint puts things “within reach”, even more than a sculpture. We see colours sparkle and almost feel their temperature. That is how tangible they have become.
Paint creates so much more than a pure representation. It also provides us with an expression so that we can resonate along with what is depicted.
We slip into the painting, as it were, and explore it compassionately.
We penetrate the intimacy of what is observed. There are people who have described a painting as a framed window that has been opened out onto what it shows. But it is more accurate to think of it as a safe in a wall in which a world of experiences has been stored for safekeeping.
Martine Thoelen’s work is a rehabilitation of manual dexterity and the pleasure of the execution. The aforementioned expressiveness of the brush stroke as well as her penchant for mixed, tertiary colours have underpinned the tender melancholy that has been her hallmark since 2013.