Claudia Betzin not only turns the room into a colourful space through her paintings but into a colour room that almost completely surrounds the viewer. The colour determines the climate in the room and develops an atmospheric omnipresence whose strength can be felt directly as an independent force by anyone who enters this room.
The individual, high rectangular canvasses are almost as tall as a man and bring a new dimension into this high room that is based on human proportions. This is important for the perception, for the acceptance of the installation. The width of the individual panels varies, emphasising their corpulence and thus at the same time their “independence” in a familiar context with the other panels through their unusual thickness. The majority are slim. A big panel that can hardly be encircled with outspread arms, on the other hand, appears to be an exception. The individual panels, whose height also differs slightly, are distributed loosely around the walls whilst keeping their distance from each other. The pattern is interrupted by two door openings. Only the wall with the windows remains completely free. The panels are all hung so that their lower edge is at the same height, thus almost casually stating their shared identity. The way in which the panels are arranged creates different rhythms, i.e. there are areas of closeness or rather “acceleration” where the gaps between the individual parts are smaller and the white walls shrink to a narrow slit, and others where the distances stretch, slowing everything down and where the white spaces start to become virulent as independent “pictures”.
Unlike a traditional panel, the viewer never has the chance to see the complete picture-room installation in its entirety at a glance, no matter what door they use to enter the room. Large parts of the installation always remain undiscovered either alongside or behind him. This means that he has to supplement and correct his first impression with further “insights” by changing his position in the room until he is able to take his own “standpoint” by obtaining an impression of the complete room through his own physical activity.
This perambulation through the room, which tacitly implies he has to invest a certain amount of time, gradually discloses
its peculiarities. From whatever side you enter the room the first “port of call” will always be in front
of the long wall with its eight canvasses. Our gaze is attracted by the expansiveness and above all the intensity of the
colours. The parts gather here, they become larger and denser, though the dividing force of the intervals also increases.
And this is unquestionably the dramatic highlight in terms of colour of a number of pictures that may constitute a cycle,
a cycle that circles endlessly around the viewer in the centre. A bright orange welling out of a funnel-shaped form and
spreading like a cloud is experienced as the centre of energy. Together with the slim black-grey panel to its left it
almost creates a square and thus the most compact, stable form, a sort of nucleus from which everything appears to spring.
The vibrancy of the orange encompasses the following panels on the right with various intensities, glows a final time
before being extinguished in an abysmal black on the panel that is furthest away. The trail of a black brush stroke connects
these parts as a horizontal graphic element and the slight decline that is continued in the panels on the short wall to
the right makes it clear that the sequence of the panels is by no means random but has been configured from the outset
by the overall composition. Three narrow panels continue the composition to the left of centre, and are clearly separated
from this by a broad cesura. Things are calmer here. Grey to black colours are dominant and stand out from the light beige
background like a smoky sky.
The opposite wall is split into two parts of almost equal length by a door in the middle and has three narrow panels on the left and two on the right, one of which is much wider. The palette is calmer. Cool blues and greens dominate and contrast with the “fiery” wall on the opposite side. The door is simply ignored as a break to preserve the visual continuity. The blue in the panel on the left undoubtedly belongs to the blue in the panel on the right and is “from the same mould”, as it were.
A light yellow flooded with green develops from this misty blue. A narrow panel whose colour definition appears uncertain follows on from this very broad, outstanding panel as a final point. Sandy beige colours define the image.
The colour bonds with a sandy base applied in thick layers at four points in the picture. This base spreads around the stretcher frame, emphasising the materiality and tangibility of the picture and at the same time its “weight”. The harmony of an earthy palette and gruff style that opens our eyes as to how the picture is made as a technical, creative process arouses certain associations. We are tempted to think of geographic processes, eruptions, magma, the creation of land and sea and the origin of life. But pictures by Claudia Betzin don’t have a religious background, even if the artist has worked for church rooms; at most they disclose the creative possibilities that she has been blessed with on the canvas. She begins with the world of the visible and palpable that intuitively develops an abstract formal language for her. Following her inner intuition, she spontaneously brings her sensations and subconscious to canvas. She lets herself go and the picture grows on its own, as it were, becoming an independent dialogue partner for the artist. The picture gradually assumes more concrete contours in this dialogue between the work and its producer, becomes more solid, casting off more and more of its random nature until it finally appears complete – no more and no less.
With this in mind, the question arises as to whether the individual canvasses can be seen as independent entities and
simply socialise more or less randomly as an installation or whether these are part of a whole that follow a previously
defined plan. How do the parts behave as a whole? What is the whole anyway?
A first answer to this question can be directly derived from the studio. All parts of the work stood side by side and the artist worked on them simultaneously. The “master plan” thus comprised all parts from the very start and saw these as a single entity. The black lines that cover several panels and carry the composition to a large extent also bear witness to the overall view of things that was given from the outset, even if details were only added later, as if in a prolonged process of gestation. The compatible connections of the coloured areas also refer to the unity of the concept. Is this, then, an oversized polyptychon?
When describing the work it was assumed that the many parts deal with a series of pictures in a certain sequence. We primarily followed the weighting of the colours, their development from warm to cold. This development, however, is not told as a continuous story but as an addition of individual steps or “sections” divided by longer “breaks”, though they may also follow each other in rapid succession. This taking a step back or pause for breath, this rhythmic arrangement of parts makes us aware of time as an added dimension. Formal metaphors expand and shrink for the flow of time.
As already explained, the parts differ in their height, width and thickness. They are seen as related, but autonomous
individuals. Their outlines are determined by the clear geometry of a rectangle. These clear forms have been combined
into a tight overall construct that subdue, order and place into hierarchies the otherwise overflowing, up to now explosive
expansion of colours. Order and resoluteness are obedient children of reason. This is where they meet with foreboding
and feeling, the irrational child of intuition. This is what makes Claudia Betzin’s work so exciting and rich.
Dr. Wolfgang Vomm