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About Portraiture 2


12/02 2022 / 5 - 10pm

12/03 2022 / 12 - 3pm

jourUNfixe -  A workshop talk

12/03 2022 / 3 - 5pm

The colloquium met several times in 2021. This exchange has been continued here. For ABOUT PORTRAITURE 2 the circle of participants was expanded to include the Frankfurt painter Corinna Meyer.


ABOUT PORTRAITURE 2 made no claim to a complete analysis, nor did it intend to provide clear answers.

Rather, the interest of the colloquium was directed toward mutual artistic exchange and the development of thoughts in conversation. Artistic interpretation as a method was in the foreground. Intuition, inspiration in comparison with historical models, philosophical and social concepts formed the framework for our discussions.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”

William Blake, ´The Marriage of Heaven and Hell´


The perspective from which we approach the topic can be infinitely broad. In the process, one's own artistic self-understanding fills the " think- and see-space" and, at the same time, sets the boundaries.

When I had the idea for ABOUT PORTRAITURE, it was close to my heart to question these thinking spaces with others. Since we are dealing with portraits, the personal becomes important, the turning towards each other - the own attitude of the one who paints and of the one who is painted. The self-portrait plays a special role.


For Family and Friends

by Carolin Kropff


As far as I know, portrait painting originated from the wish to remember the loved ones. It began with death masks and the imprint of faces, the silhouette, the shadow line and mummy portraits. The image of faces and bodies has been with us for a very, very long time. It is deeply anchored with the personal environment.

At some point, the imprint of faces became the image of rulers with the demand for worship, which again much later led to the prohibition of the image - Thou shalt not make unto thee any image - and iconoclasm.


The French philosopher Didi Hubermann called painting bodily and wrote about skin, as an organ, a demarcation from the environment. Skin circumscribes the body organically, clearly, yet with a delicacy that does not simply impose itself on the line when drawing. Rubens depicted skin in a wonderfully painterly way - a quiet melody of red, green, blue and yellow.


What happens when painting someone close to you? How do I translate what I observe into brush movement, how do I choose the colors on the palette, how do I organize the surface of the canvas? What happens to the movement of the brush on the canvas with knowledge added - the knowledge about the person I want to portray, what happens with my knowledge of the Interaction of Color, anatomy, art history, Rubens? Does my knowledge of the critique of figurative painting and the observation that there is something different hanging in the air in Frankfurt than in Dubai, for example, really matter. Should it play a role? Why do I paint portraits, and by painting I also mean drawing, working with fabric, paper and clay.

With Felicity Brown, we like talking about image making and storytelling and how much we all love stories - the personal stories she collected during her Love Heart Journey in LA and the stories we encountered on our Adam and Eve Journey in New Mexico.

As hairdressers' clients, we love to speak about ourselves. In A Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell collects the timeless stories of humanity. Narcissus tells us something about the suffering of ones self-construction.


This year we were particularly interested in the portrait as a personal matter, something that is not intended for a large audience, but that we create for ourselves, for the private spaces, the home, the bedroom.


So we met to draw, without the pretension of creating great art, just to be together, to leave some traces and talk.

Therefore ABOUT PORTRAITURE 2 was half exhibition, half invitation into the private space of the studio, where sketchy drawings could be seen, showing a tracing out, sometimes confident, sometimes awkward and rarely selected for a "normal" exhibition. The painting by Corinna Mayer in the center of the wall showed herself with her boyfriend. It is a very personal and intimate double portrait.


At the end of the exhibition there was a jourUNfixe, another invitation to the visitors to participate in the experience of drawing together and getting to know each other.

Carolin Kropff, December 2022

Gedanken über das Zeichnen eines Porträts

by Britta Kadolsky


Das Porträt zeigt oft nur das Gesicht der Person.

Haben wir dann eine Person gut getroffen, wenn wir ein gelungenes Porträt gezeichnet haben? Was ist gelungen? Wenn wir die Ähnlichkeit treffen? Oder gelingt es uns die Charaktereigenschaften, die Seele und die wichtigsten Gedanken festzuhalten, während wir zeichnen/malen?


Wir haben uns zum Zeichnen getroffen und uns gegenseitig porträtiert. Jeder in seinem Stil:

  • präzise und genau mit Kohle,

  • malerisch mit Pinsel und Farbe,

  • mit suchendem wildem Strich mit Bleistift oder

  • schnell und lax skizzierend mit dem Filzstift.

Herausgekommen sind nach 5 bis 40 Minuten sehr unterschiedliche Portraits von ein und demselben Menschen. Gibt es ein Richtig oder Falsch? Auf jeden Fall wollen wir alle eine Ähnlichkeit mit dem Porträtierten erreichen. Und: uns allen gemeinsam ist eine leichte Unzufriedenheit mit dem Ergebnis.

In jedem entstandenen Bild findet auch immer die Zeichner*in/die Maler*in ihren Niederschlag.


Was sieht man als Zeichnerin beim Porträtieren? Ich stelle fest, ich schaue, aber ich sehe nicht alles. Ich weiß einfach schon ‚zu viel‘ und das steht mir im Weg. Meine Vorstellungen von einem Gesicht vermischen sich mit dem, was ich tatsächlich sehe. Jedoch glaube ich, ich zeichne nur was ich sehe. Aber während ich zeichne, bringe ich auch etwas von dem auf das Papier, was ich weiß. Ich habe theoretisches Wissen über die Physiognomie im Allgemeinen und über die des Porträtierten im Besonderen („meine Nase ist wirklich krumm“). Davon kann ich mich nicht freimachen und daher zeichne ich nicht nur das was ich sehe. Aber darum geht es, um das wirkliche Hingucken und das genaue Sehen. Es ist eine Herausforderung nur das zu zeichnen, was man wirklich sieht und nicht das was man denkt, das es das Richtige sei.


Ein Porträtist galt früher (17./18. Jahrhundert) übrigens als abfällige Bezeichnung für die Künstler, die keine eigenen Ideen hatten und daher „der Hässlichkeit des Gesichts […] unterworfen seien“.  Sie galten nur als Kopist oder Nachahmer und nicht wirklich als Künstler. Außerdem gab es den Anspruch das „wahre Temperament“ das „Wesen“ einer Person wiederzugeben, nicht nur eine äußere Ähnlichkeit. „Ohne Gefühl geht es nicht bei Gesichtsbildern.“


Und woran erkenne ich nun den echten Charakter, die inneren Wahrheiten und den wahren Wesenszug? Technisch betrachtet ist das Gesicht die vordere Hälfte des Kopfes, ein dreidimensionales und mit vielen Muskeln besetztes Objekt, das sich bewegt. Und daraus soll ein zweidimensionales Bild entstehen. Und es soll nicht nur die äußere Hülle darstellen, sondern auch das innere Wesen.

Eine schwierige, aber sehr reizvolle Aufgabe.

The artists:

Corinna Mayer studied at the Städelschule in the class of Hermann Nitsch from 1991 - 1997 and was a master student in the subject of interdisciplinary art. She writes:

The theme of my painting is the  connection and the unconnectedness of people to others or to themselves. The sitters are a mirror of what we are or at the same time what we could be. The question arises after what roles we play in life. Rooted in the past, human beings are imbued with longings and imagination.
In my painting, I want to bring together opposites and allow ambivalence. The goal of my painting is to paint pictures that stimulate a multi-layered perception of reality.

Felicity Brown is a British artist and fashion designer. She studied art and textile printing at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London.

Together with her brother Henry Brown she founded her own designer label and became part of NEWGEN, and this enabled her to show collections in London, Paris and New York. She has shown work at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the Handbag Museum in Seoul, and The Fashion Project at Bal Harbour Shops, Miami, alongside pieces by Jean Cocteau, Elsa Schiaparelli, Léon Bakst and Hussein Chalaayan. She has been collaborating with Carolin Kropff since 2015.

Martin Holzschuh was a master student of Michael Krebber at the Städelschule. He writes:

I also drew, and not infrequently, a drawing was a trigger to paint a new image, transformed by the materiality of colour. Increasingly, my paintings darkened into dark, almost abstract surfaces. When this reached an endpoint, I began to approach a figurative position again through sketching. The painterly dialogue with Felicity, Monika and Carolin is a good occasion to continue these new approaches.

Monika Romstein lives and work in Frankfurt. Romstein is known for her work with watercolours, oilpaintings and installations, ranging from large scale to small format. Being highly motivated by a dark, haunting and fable-like range of references, her work includes imagery from domestic realities as well as landscape elements. Whether surreal or narrative, her intense and detailed paintings are often perceived as controversial.The figures and spaces in the intimate formats of the watercolors are about the refusal to accept the dictates of evidence that constitute our reality space. Thus, sceneries appear in the watercolors that at first seem strange and enraptured, yet continually refer to aspects of our present and past.

Britta Kadolsky is an art historian (MA) based in Frankfurt. She studied art history and art education at Goethe University in Frankfurt after working for a long time in a major bank. She also paints and draws herself and approaches art both theoretically and practically. During her studies, she discovered her love for writing about art and has been running her own art blog 'Was kann Kunst' since 2020. There she prefers to write about modern and contemporary art and posts articles regularly.

Carolin Kropff studied at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie and Städelschule Frankfurt where she graduated. From 1989-1991 she worked as an assistant costume designer and men's tailor at the Theater Dortmund. From 1999 - 2002 she maintained studios in Madrid, Spain and 2006 - 2011 in Dubai, UAE. In 2020 she founded STUDIOSPACE Lange Strasse 31 in Frankfurt am Main. The project work is supported by the Kulturamt Frankfurt and the Frauenreferat Frankfurt.



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