Lisa Couwenbergh, Under The Skin Gouache on Paper 105x230cm, 2016
Under The Skin
‘Interpretation is a matter of questions, not answers’, Couwenbergh says.
One of her works hangs on the main wall of her living room and almost instantly catches your eye. Earth-like colors in gouache combined with shapes that both seep into the canvas or seem to be on top of it. The sculptures attached to the painting strengthen this optical illusion. A pair of bones and a skull looks cartoonish in its simplicity. Together they indent the room as a pair of three-dimensional icons. Lisa Couwenbergh started out as a painter but gradually incorporated sculptures in her work. She thinks that her paintings have always resembled something like sculptures. Her lines are rarely even and gain presence through their shading. Her depictions are anything but anecdotic.They are abstract shapes turned into something tangible.
According to Couwenbergh some people consider her work to be deep, while others think it’s light-hearted. Is her work with skull and bones a light-hearted wink at death? One could see the ironic touch in the cartoonish display, but death is still a serious subject. Or is it nothing more than a playful combination of shapes, colors and material? The artist struggles with questions about the meaning behind her work. To her it’s a matter of interpretation and it’s those different interpretations that make her work interesting.
Lisa Couwenbergh makes us realize that depiction means creating illusions and that interpretation lies hidden in both the viewer and the work itself. You can leave interpretation to what happens between work and viewer, not to what an artist says or what a writer thinks they needs to write. Of course, some elements can’t be denied, whether it’s a book, an eye, a face or a book, but the real meaning doesn’t lie in the literal depiction or in what we consider to be serious or light-hearted art. Interpretation happens in the moment when people and art interact.
Text: Robert Proost
On the occasion of the opening of the solo exhibition of Lisa Couwenbergh Under The Skin a catalogue and textbook have been launched (edition 30 signed and numbered). Text and poem by Robert Proost and designed by Weiran Han and Li Yanda, students at AVK-St.Joost, s’-Hertogenbosch (NL). Also digital published on our ISSUU catalogue-channel.
Website Lisa Couwenbergh