On Pat Rosenmeier’s New Paintings

Derwische (Derivshes)is what the German-Canadian painter Pat Rosenmeier calls her most recent series of paintings. Dynamic, gestural and colorful, they inevitably stir associations with the ecstatic, dancing trances of Turkey’s Mevlevi order of Sufis.

In her series, the artist has repeatedly shifted between different lines of inquiry from the history of painting: abstract realism in Magnolien (Magnolias), Sealands or Maden (Maggots) and monochrome abstraction in Nine Gold or her black paintings. Here she proceeds in a manner similar to Thomas Ruff in his wide-ranging visual worlds dealing with the possibilities of photography.

In the paintings of the Dervishes series, Pat Rosenmeier builds on the abstract and expressive artistic methods of Action Painting and Art Informel, developed in the postwar art of Jackson Pollock, Wols, Emil Schumacher, Heinz Mack and KRH Sonderborg, among others. They are characterized by a strikingly bodily way of working based on movement. There is no prefabricated formal concept, no painting by numbers; instead, the works emerge out of a trial-and-error or challenge-response process until the picture appears “finished.” This is a risky procedure, as can be inferred from the sometimes numerous layers of overpainting.

High-contrast, pure colors predominate in the visual figures placed on the almost monochrome, cloudy gray grounds of Rosenmeier’s Dervishes. Thus, instead of an allover painting across the entire canvas, there is a clearly articulated figure-ground constellation. And although they are completely abstract, we might feel a desire to recognize fluttering hummingbirds, roaring whirlpools or gleaming fireworks of pigment in them.

The titles of almost all the new abstract paintings feature not just a precise dating, including the month and day, but also the names of women — a kind of dedication to Clärenore Stinnes, Vivian Maier, Camille Claudel, Gerda Taro, Melli Beese and Ellis Kaut.