In recent decades, Britta Lumer (b. 1965 in Frankfurt am Main) has generated a coherent oeuvre, mostly works on paper, that goes beyond what would be described as mere draftsmanship. Here, nothing figurative is grasped or epitomized and captured or preserved in an artistic depiction. Although her works on paper touch on figurativeness – not seldom with monumental views of bodies, portraits, architectures, and cityscapes – she always seems to drive her subjects to the verge of dissolution, of liquefaction. This intentional leap into the indeterminate corresponds with the use of painter’s means. For her large-format ink drawings, she constructed a fully mobile worktable, so that she can steer the liquid ink in all directions. For years, she tinkered with innovative work techniques, so that she can constantly seek anew a proper balance between what can be planned and what is random.
Thus, nothing in her pictures appears in a fixed place; every contour could always follow different paths. Doublings, linear shifts, pigment accumulations, and the course of light-dark contrasts reveal a degree of contingency that makes what is depicted seem strange to us and is nonetheless well suited for contemplative viewing. Instead of delivering finished projections, Lumer works out projection screens whose vagueness and delicacy prevents us as viewers from regarding what we see as a formulation of something already known. In front of Lumer’s pictures, we tread new, still unmapped territory and must slowly make our way through tear-like veils, expansive empty spaces, and the precisely formulated contours that appear in them, to gradually build up a relationship with what we see. If most contemporary figuration is umbilically attached to narration, Lumer’s pictures fundamentally refuse connection with a continuing tale – and they don’t need it, either. In auratic autonomy, the works stoically insist on the insight that nothing means anything from out of itself and that, anyway, a picture comes alive only if it manages to create a space in which the viewer recognizes himself as meant, without already having stridden through it entirely. In contrast to the flood of images that washes over us every day and the constant, meaningless reassurance of ourselves in the never-ending production and distribution of banal self-presentations, Lumer’s pictorial layerings show what, from an artistic standpoint, could be used to counter this stultifying, world-spanning image machine. Self-knowledge cannot ripen in the zone where the familiar is constantly perpetuated as something new, but only where we are provided a space where we can relate without prejudgment to the unfamiliar, the strange, and the open – and this is precisely the zone in which Britta Lumer’s work has its place.
Britta Lumer lives and works in Berlin. From 1992 to 1996, she studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main with Georg Herold and Per Kirkeby, then, until 1997, at the State Art Academy in Bergen with Luc Tuymans and Lawrence Weiner among others. Her works have been shown in diverse solo exhibitions in Germany and abroad and are found in many public collections.