Beatriz von Eidlitz does not see herself as a painter, but as a sculptor. And sculpture is also the genre in which her roots lie. Born in Buenos Aires, she studied sculpture in Argentina during in the years of the military dictatorship. She had to be very inventive at that time, when many things were scarce, including art supplies. She later studied applied graphics and painting in Munich, where she discovered her passion for paper and especially for making paper by hand. Making paper means participating in a history that is over 2,000 years old, from valuable material to recycled object.
She devoted a decade of labor to rebuilding the paper mill in Großpertholz, Austria, where she ultimately became, as she says herself, “part of the paper mill.”
Three primary materials – pigments, iron and paper – comprise her enchanting pictorial objects. All there are millennia-old materials, which the artist brings into an unprecedented combination and a wholly new context.
The paper serves Beatriz von Eidlitz as a substrate for the picture and/or as a working material. The iron, on the other hand, functions as a relief plate or stencil.
Beatriz von Eidlitz applies pigments directly to sheets of iron and afterwards covers them with a layer of pulp, which gradually dries. After the pulp has dried, the paper sheet is peeled off. What remains on the iron plate are fascinating surface structures that the oxidation process has imprinted there. Each pigment oxidizes differently and accordingly creates different surfaces. If all goes optimally well, two embossed prints are created in this way: one on the sheet of iron and a second on the dried paper that has been peeled from the metal plate.
There’s a special appeal in these dual artworks, each consisting of a paper negative and metal relief positive. The symbiosis of iron and paper is expressed in different dominances: sometimes the paper determines the artwork, other times the iron’s optics have a work-determining effect. Beatriz von Eidlitz’s works present themselves in this contrast between soft and hard, concave and convex, strictly geometric or vegetatively floral. What holds true for the form is equally true for the color. On the one hand it seems reserved, earthy, cork-like, describing the primal elements of earth, fire and water; yet on the other hand it can appear gaudy, intensely luminous and much more radiant than any oil paint could be. The pigments unite in a colorful dance and experience a togetherness in the democracy of the colors.
Basically, one would like not only to look at Beatriz von Eidlitz’s works, but also to grasp them in the truest sense of the word. These surface structures are so enlivening that one is tempted to perceive their haptic effects at firsthand by tracing one’s fingertips along the craters that have formed.
The rest is accomplished by the colors themselves, whether the sheer sight of these colors makes their viewer feel tipsy or whether they remind the viewer of transience and processes of change in the presence of corroded iron. Beatriz von Eidlitz knows how to set our mental cinema in motion and to conjure images and feelings.
It remains to be hoped that the artist will receive many more inspirations from this wonderful material (paper), from the “flour of the spirit,” as the writer Erik Orsenna so vividly put it in “On the Trail of Paper – A Declaration of Love.”
Heidrun Bucher-Schlichtenberger, M.A., Gallery Kunstblick Balingen