The colours as stylistic means of expression in the work of Irina Gerschmann

The colours as stylistic means of expression 
In the work of Irina Gerschmann

Those who come to Irina Gerschmann’s studio will be surprised, perhaps confused, by the diversity of the materials, the work, and indeed the whole ambience. There are pictures in very different techniques, there is a corner, which is more reminiscent of a fashion studio, because there are materials for works of art of different kinds – and there are tables and many chairs that the artist alone can not use.

Thus we are in the midst of the life of a self-confident young woman who in her chosen homeland Höchstadt at the Aisch has made her own creative talent the starting point of a material existence: in the House of clubs she has founded her own art school. Her knowledge continues to exist there and at the same time lives in abundance and from the abundance of her creative and creative power.

Against the backdrop of this knowledge, the visitor quickly returns to the essence, to the art of Irina Gerschmann. In their drawings, few clear strokes suffice to formulate a statement. In her painting it is the clearly defined flatness of the chromatic composition, which appeals to the viewer intensively. This approach to the artist is so demanding that the viewer has to answer. Even if the subject as such is less, the expressiveness of even an almost monochromatic work, such as the “bottle spirits”, is so great that it is difficult to evade the inherent call for self-criticism.

Detail in the drawing and challenging colours are two essential elements in the artistic work of Irina Gerschmann. In her younger works, the fashion designer has combined the textile material with the graphic and pictorial ability of the visual artist. Your pictures have included textile elements.

A highlight is their textile collage “The Eternal Procession of Jewish history”, which is presented to the public for the first time in the Kronacher synagogue. Another surprise also in this work: the level of detail and the conscious use of colour have remained. The latter misses the viewer, who knows and appreciates the radiant luminous power in Gerschmanns images. At least at first sight.

The work is according to earthly colours the earth-connected linen fabric. But again and again intense colors flash, colour signals that set accents. Red, green, blue are the markers that mark certain sequences from the action of the image. In a silky shiny fabric, they consciously draw attention to various places in Jewish history.

Similar to the Christian Middle Ages, the “Biblia Pauperum” – The portrayal of biblical stories for people who were not aware of reading – Irina Gerschmann sums up several thousand years of the history of the Jewish people at 300 times 200 centimeters. However, since Jewish religion was and is always a religion of the word, it is not simply picture stories that the artist tells. It demands a lot of the viewer’s image. A plethora of small images and a seemingly unmanageable amount of names and terms are lined up: from Abraham to Golda Meir they show the way of the Jewish people. The latter are still easily recognizable: in Abraham, it is the important elements of the sacrifice that God has demanded as obedience, the image of a young man, the altar of sacrifice, and the eventually sacrificed Aries. At Golda Meir, it is a portrait of the well-known Israeli Prime minister. On the more than three-metre long image path, which reflects the over 3000 years of historical path, the story is depicted, including the important Jewish scholars and philosophers, artists and scholars, all the way to Einstein. Chagall is referred to by the artist honoring elements typical of his painting. Important symbols of Jewish life are to be found, such as the Menora, the seven-armed chandelier. The regional diversity to the small continuous scenes is also reflected. Other things are only words.

But back to the colour. In the narrative of the story, Irina Gerschmann is a correct chronicler who does not distract from the actual events by too great a colourfulness. The bright red colours are all the more so: small and almost timid still in the so important test of Abraham. There are three strips of solid red, blue green.

They find themselves at an important point in the life of the Jewish people: the end of Egyptian slavery, the beginning of history as a people in their own country, and not least the word of God given to Moses and the Jewish people on the Sinai.

But why just these three colors? Red is always a warning signal. Red points to the oppression of bondage in Egypt, green is widely associated with a new beginning and hope – the start of the independent life. A small piece of green is also found in the temporal arc of the State foundation of Israel. And why Blue? Here it may be possible to associate a little with the colours of the sea through which the Jewish people drew, with the colours of the state of Israel, with the colours found in the Jewish prayer mantle.

The red fabric strip then finds itself again, much bigger, much more dominant. He’s in the 20th century. Century for the Shoah, the murder of six million Jewish people.

When we have captured the meaning of the color red in this image of Irina Gerschmann, it is noticeable that this color is drawn through the entire image. In a discreet claret, though, in unobtrusive strokes, but they pull through the picture as regularly and cautiously as the pogroms have drawn through the long history of the Jews. The Strokes only injure the persons, houses, objects depicted. At first glance, they do not allow the viewer to cry as much as the non-Jewish environment of the perpetrators has done – through centuries and millennia. Only the bright Leuchtrot of Egyptian slavery was also noticed by outsiders – and the Holocaust that changed world history.

In this way, playing with the signal effect less colors, the important stylistic elements for Irina Gerschmann are a high precision in the drawing and line-up and a striking colour to be found also in this work.

Miryam Gümbel
M. A. Historikerin und Journalistin