View into a Kaleidoscope of Worlds
Excerpt from the catalogue "The thin line between reality and reality" published on the occasion of the exhibition of the Peter-Hans-Hofschneider-Prize
of the art foundation Baden-Württemberg
ENBW, Berlin, May 29 - August 21, 2009 and Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe, October 17 - November 15, 2009

Petra Olschowski

The background on which Agnes Märkel’s artwork is to be placed can be described by a quote from the English art critic and author John Berger. It is taken from his essay “On Visibility”: "All appearances are continually changing one another; visually everything is interdependent. Looking is submitting the sense of sight to the experience of that interdependence." And: "The visible is a feature of that life, it cannot exist without it. In a dead universe nothing is visible."

This means: everything we visually perceive is related to each other in our interior. We see something and automatically connect it with another thing which we have already seen, which we know, which we remember. Space and time are skipped, disintegrated, for a while they are not relevant anymore, except if we deliberately pursue those interfaces we consciously make up. One consequence of this is that everything we see comes into contact with a previously perveived treasury of pictures. Every present impression mixes itself with a past impression. There is no such thing as seeing neutrally. Every view is essentially subjective, interconnected, rooted, individual, peculiar, constantly subject to correspondence and alterations through new experiences. No person sees things the same as another.


Often – and this is striking – the transition from photography to painting on Agnes Märkel’s pictures can hardly be determined. One has to get quite close to the works to see where one ends and the other one begins. Viewers are continually challenged to confirm their perception. Then they discover in detail a small world of its own that, from a distance, merges with the overall picture.

Looking at the picture becomes a process by itself in which there is no standstill, no unambiguousness. The eye follows the rhythm, roams over the picture surface – the spatial dimension of the survey is joined by a temporal one. The fact that Agnes Märkel often gets the inspiration for her pictures from films becomes clear in this movement that she demands from the eye. In that sense the question is irrelevant whether painting or drawing is still timely in our media-filled world. Without our knowledge of handling motion pictures it would hardly be possible to decode Agnes Märkel’s collaged world of paintings.

Der Schmale Grat der Wirklichkeit/
The thin line between reality and reality

left: Anlanden, 2006 (9 Blätter)   right: Turn to turn, 2003

center: Wege zum Ruhm, 2009  

left: Eismaschine, 2007   center: draw the line, 2002   right: Flächenfraß, 2008

left: Blühen, 2008    right: Kollaps eines Regenbogens, 2007
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