Christine Jackob-Marks / text




Christine Jackob-Marks

Es muss im Leben mehr als alles geben
There Must Be More to Life | Maurice Sendak

Manfred Eichel

Paul Cezanne expressed it aphoristically: “The content of our art lies primarily in what our eyes think.” Con- tinually posing new and often quite surprising intellectual challenges is one of the incontrovertible qualities of the paintings of Christine Jackob- Marks. If one surveys her earliest works, those pain- ted and drawn over thirty years ago, and compares them to her more recent output, it is evident that throughout the intervening years she has remained the same young artist; someone who has eschewed repetition, and always avoided the danger of cultivating, possibly to the point of exhaustion, a certain style. She has been constantly in search of new forms of expression, but also of fresh themes, since her revelatory encounter in London’s Na- tional Gallery. Here, in the early 1980s she rst laid eyes on Renoir’s Les Parapluis, a street-scene in the rain, full of raised and tilted umbrellas—an image that not only invites our eyes to seek out discoveries, but which also induces them to “think.” From that moment on, Christine Jackob-Marks resolved to paint and convey her own personal perspective to the world.
As I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the artist, and her art, at an early stage in her career, I am therefore aware that this moment of epiphany in London still resonates in her paintings today. From the very outset, she sought and found many of her motifs within the natural environment. Nature inspired her to fashion virtuosic landscapes— often inner, spiritual landscapes; images, in which something actually tran- spires, and which are not content merely to represent what is there with varying degrees of precision. Her interpretations of nature are possessed of something profoundly theatrical. Her forests, suffused with light, as if consumed by re; often doused in moon-light. Her meadows appear enchanted and her renderings of the coal- mining region of Lausitz unveil powerful panoramas of hitherto concealed primordial landscapes. Consequently, I was not surprised to observe that more recently her landscape explorations have ventured into total imaginary spaces. Initially into the luxuriant vegetation of a paradisiacal Garden of Eden and from there—quasi as a natural progression — into deep space, into the explosive cosmogony, into the kaleido- scopic eruptions of energy, into the maelstrom of chaos.
In her latest works, the painter drifts completely into abstraction. She paints music— primarily by Franz Schu- bert. She intensively studied and grew to love Schubert’s compositions whilst listening to her husband in the next room practicing piano pieces above all by him, but also by Liszt and Satie, Berg and Messiaen, as she stood before her easel. For thirteen years, she lived with Alan Marks, one of the world’s great American concert pianists, until his death in 1995. Marks’ recordings of all eleven-and-a- half Schubert sonatas are still regarded as unequalled. At the time, the music critic Klaus Geitel enthused in the German daily Die Welt: “I know of no other more moving, more poignant, more personal interpretation than this by Alan Marks.”
Now Christine Jackob-Marks has set about creating her own Schubert interpretations, her own very personal “acoustic pictures”; dashes, arches, and dabs applied with a black charcoal pencil, a symphony of rhythmic curves, chords, and staccato passages. “Set to the rhythm of the particular piece of music,” she explains. In common with Paul Klee, who, for example, executed Fugue in Red, the artist is rmly convinced that “paint- ing can, in one single moment, mediate to an audience the entire content of a work—which music is not capable of,” because it unfolds with time; a notion rst mooted by Wassily Kandinsky in his tract Concerning the Spiritual in Art.
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It was Dieter Stolte, who, twenty years ago, when still Director General of the German public broadcaster ZDF, gave an address at a Vernissage. Here, he appositely and accurately described the extraordinary range charac- terizing the art of Christine Jackob- Marks: “The dividing line between sleeping and waking, between tranquil- ity and storm, between the abstract and the concrete, between art and reality is with Christine Jackob- Marks exceptionally, but visibly narrow.” It is the “intuitive mastery” and powerful expressivity alluded to by Stolte, which Mark Gisbourne, the British curator and art historian, underscores in his meticulously detailed essay for this catalog.
In her conversation with Christine Jackob-Marks, Adrienne Goehler, former director of the Art Academy in Hamburg, and once Berlin’s senator of culture, looks back on the artist’s colorful life. A life that has oscillated between London, Paris, and Berlin, as a jeweler’s apprentice and textile designer, between art and music; part of a political street theater troupe, and garnering rst prize for her design of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. Re- garding the latter, how she and a few other colleagues both won and subsequently lost the competition, the American historian and publisher Michael S. Cullen chronicles in his concluding essay. This volume charts the many milestones of the life’s journey of Christine Jackob-Marks, and it remains my fervent hope that she will continue to add yet more chapters in the years to come.