Since 2002 Muthesius has devoted himself to monochrome paintings in gold. They can be seen in chancels of various churches in various cities, in secular underground stations in Berlin, but also as a permanent exhibit at the Munich State Collection of Antiquities and Glyptothek, by the name of “Tabula aurea”, a companion piece to the statue of Apollo.
He painstakingly applies golden flakes of metal leaf, a brass alloy, onto wooden panels, placing them on top of and next to one another to give texture to the painting. The embossing in the gold leaf-like material shows small cracks, signs of wear, and extremely fine creases. The underlying texture, the wood grain, is also discernible through the golden finish. The artist holds back and simply allows the monochrome painting in gold to take effect. Depending on the viewpoint – from close up, from a distance, from various angles – the GOLD paintings have a variety of different effects on the viewer. They sensitise the eye, always presenting new textures and lighting effects. There is an ever-present allusion to something eternal.
The GOLDEN FIELDS project “Heaven Under Berlin” in Berlin underground stations was born on the occasion of the Ecumenical Day of 2003, held jointly for the first time by the Christian churches of Germany.
Lustrous golden squares transform dull walls in uninviting underground stations. They surprise the passenger hurrying to his train; they are contrary to what he expects to see there. A disturbance? Yes. A deliberate one, which exposes the gaze to the warmth from the GOLDEN FIELDS on the bare walls of tile and concrete, or the steel girders, and renders the anonymous corridors unusually inviting. They enhance the unremarkable, everyday passageways by placing a symbol of silence, of reflection, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the crowd, lending it something unique. They convey something precious, evoking the celestial, even the holy, in a place where no one expects it.
From GOLDEN FIELDS Muthesius is developing a technique called BROKEN GOLD. First, gold leaf is painstakingly applied to the wooden support, creating delicate textures. Then Muthesius inflicts damage on this seemingly perfect gold painting; it is smashed into pieces, slashed, or has its surface scratched. Hand tools, such as axe and chainsaw, are carefully taken to it. The emerging works evoke the fragile and vulnerable in our lives, our history, and our times.
Titles of other GOLD series are BITUMEN GOLD, GOLDEN BUBBLES, DARK GOLD, and the latest, in memory of Vincent van Gogh, who is depicted in a self portrait with a golden painting under his arm, “HOMMAGE TO VINCENT”.
Quotations / Reviews
Quotations / Reviews
On Golden Fields
by Christoph Tannert, Article in: notabene, 2002
“In his ‘Golden Fields’, Winfried Muthesius allows us to catch a glimpse of an unimagined vastness and depth beguiling us from beyond knowledge and imagination. By thus confronting us with an energy, he awakens within us the desire to become more aware of this immensity which underlies the simple things of everyday life; which overarches them, covers them, simply surrounds them and renders them intangible. We sense an ardent longing for heaven, a yearning to rediscover the original purity and adherence to values, in a modest, unpretentious way which attests to an inner willingness. (…)
Winfried Muthesius’s visualisations are like chords resonating into their surrounding space, so that the cathartic degree of silence which follows can be experienced all the more clearly once again. On the other hand, they also break through the silence and give voice to that which might otherwise be drowned out in the infinite cacophony of political chatter. In his ambition to sensitise, Muthesius forces constant chaos into the void. At the same time, he cries out against the silence. This tension produces nuanced spatial concepts, unusual and realistic, full of poetry and contrast.”
On Der Himmel unter Berlin (Heaven Under Berlin)
by Thomas Sternberg, Berlin 2003
“Passageways, tedious waiting areas; not destinations, but way stations. On the walls, information, graffiti, and garish advertisements promising consumer happiness and “instant enjoyment!” And in between, scarcely discernible, concrete walls, bare surfaces, and barriers. The connecting passages between platforms by no means invite you to stop; rather, they are transitory places to be hurried through.”
“What does it mean, this gilding of the mundane? Surfaces become segregated by light. Yet these surfaces are different and change context. They are intertwined with the materiality of the ground, but at the same time they fundamentally transform it. To many observers, such otherness or strangeness has echoes of something precious and somehow divine.”
Thomas Sternberg. In: Golden Fields. Winfried Muthesius. Der Himmel unter Berlin. Berlin 2003