Pittura oscura is a distinct style of Muthesius’s work, which is classed under PHOTOGRAPHY, as the creative end result is a photograph. Muthesius first began developing the concept and the technique in 1992, and has been expanding on it ever since.
By intensively confronting social phenomena of his time and arranging them in historical contexts, he uses several working processes to merge the arts of painting and photography into a new whole. He creates multilayered photographic paintings of tremendous depth, which reveal unusual perceptions: the “pitture oscure”.
As always in Muthesius’s work, a real reference model is used for the initial sketches. In most cases a human skull, most likely that of a victim of some pogrom in the Middle Ages. From those sketches he develops the source painting, using progressive brush strokes. He then places this in a public space, such as a historic or sacred building, or some social focal point, and photographs it. Tensions are created automatically, which vibrate, causing surprising connections to develop.
The resulting photograph is then once again powerfully painted over, under the influence of the tensions created by the chosen location, then finally reproduced photographically. The result is an enigmatic, expressive photographic work of art that cannot be understood at first glance, and whose multidimensional nature ensures that there is always something new to be discovered.
Names of his series are, amongst others, X, CROSS and NOLI ME TANGERE.
Quotations / Reviews
Quotations / Reviews
NOLI ME TANGERE! (Do not touch me!)
by Thomas Sternberg, Berlin, 2016
“Muthesius employs the quotation ‘Noli me tangere’, but does not interpret it along the well-known, traditional lines of art history. Just think of paintings on this theme by Fra Angelico, Martin Schongauer, Fra Bartolomeo, Veronese, Titian, Corregio, Hans Holbein the Younger, James Tissot, Roy de Maistre, right up to ‘La Vie’ by Picasso.
Rather, Muthesius uses the motif as a means of exploring the relationship between the material and the spiritual, this world and the hereafter, the real and the transcendent or virtual.
He does this in a powerfully expressive way, by means of the visual arts trialogue of painting, action and photography.
As a premise for Muthesius’s creative style, and one which he tangibly imparts to his paintings, I quote the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy: “Do not touch me, for I touch you; and this touch is such that it keeps you at a distance.” (J-L. Nancy, Noli me tangere)
Each one of these photographic paintings (which Muthesius produces in very limited editions of three to seven prints) incorporates the superimposition of different states, a quality of “both/and”.
Each picture relates to something “higher”, religious, striving to attain the intangible, to grasp it, but of course ending up entirely in the palpable, the earthly, the transient.
Muthesius has no problem with paradox. His paintings draw their energy from it. That a painting can be both dynamic flow and static space simultaneously, is just one of many imponderables for this artist. They are only inconsistent under a western, “either/or”-oriented gaze.”
Excerpts from Christoph Tannert’s introduction to the Artists’ Breakfast on 28.05.2016 at the Galerie Springer, Berlin.