– Chiara Valci Mazzara –
My hands are growing tentacles.
The octopus is a mysterious, solitary creature…its soft, bendable body permits its curiosity: it is a master of camouflage, its tentacles elongate, they reach over ..
And tentacles can reach and search, often fill distances between things – they stretch among surfaces – and proceed tenaciously. The octopus body shape-shifts, and wisely, changes fringes, pushes against surfaces. Edges and perimeters. It floats.
Shapes are elongated and margins renegotiated in the liquid appearances, postures and lengthened limbs, where outstretched features and hints of movements identify the figures or face features, in the paintings of Bernhard Rappold.
Eyes, mouths, jaws – painted on wood, which shapes or is shaped by the subject and its outlines – stare back to the viewer, contained among curved borders. They form faces. Often they are smoking a cigarette.
Profiles, brows, mouths and teeth, parts of bodies, twist and roam around the surfaces: their expressions seem to be made to approach and glare, it’s an innuendo to a moment, an expression, a hint to something else. They seem to tell a tale, to pull, to push the gaze, to observe or listen. They curl around a squint, being collected parts of the body, accumulated within a glimpse, a snapshot done with pigments of acid bright colors, their shapes revealed, a bundle of forms.
They seem to be able to continue a conversation onwards, to grow some invisible tentacles to ‘talk’ further.
Like the octopus the human shapes and faces twist, reach and extend, look, glare and stare, nod and fill gaps of space between a tale and another, offering a glimpse of a detail, of a profile, of glasses, pupils, curved lips, crooked teeth. They show cogent, uneven yet alluring traits.
Bernhard manufactures scenarios, paints figures – or glimpses onto facial appearances – and instruments to float with them. Those are guitars.
The guitars which populate the space with the paintings in the studio are too realized following the shape of materials and dressed with stretched fabric, shiny textiles or vinyl cloths. They are only seemingly soft bodied and perfectly functioning instruments. They are crucial objects of the whole – the whole creative outcome – and feel like temporarily separated parts of the works on canvas or wood, a sounding element, which re-sounds the forms and shapes of the portions of faces, of the limbs, of the jaws.
The instruments’ forms complement the human postures too, they make sense while one moves among them. They feel as if they’d click right into one’s movement, into an acquired gesture, a position, a bent torso, a curved arm and are sinuous. Their shapes seem to long towards the imaginary characters populating the pieces and to the space in-between them to be filled.
In the paintings, shapes and features are only seemingly harrowingly disposed, they appear exposed, pushed against the borders, evoking narratives and tales, vibrating about something beyond, while the walls – entering the studio of Bernhard – feel somewhat expanding around them and the guitars, as if they all would be about to merge by growing their own subsidiary part, as if they’d long to fall into place, as if they’d be about to morph on one another.
To observe those shapes and forms, is a quest. It’s a negotiation between what appears and what is anticipated, a bargain between the space occupied by the pieces, the one between them, the whole they would seize.
As a consequence, one’s eyes can’t help but engage towards and along the painting’s outlines and the forms of the instruments: the first are enclosed through lines, the latter stand as a three-dimensional object, a sound maker one, with a shiny elongated body. The works and the instruments all eventually semantically coexist, appearing as floating in the vapor created by the friction which precedes the act of fusing into one another, the motion which feels as if it would contract and expands the walls of the studio.
Ultimately, the works and the guitars feel as they’d have temporarily self-separated to permit the viewer to enter the artist’s process, his intuition, his gaze onto the contours of the human build and its sudden, spontaneous or deliberate motions. Its songs and tales.
And there, in the space between the intuition and the forms, the paintings and the instruments merge and flow while unseeable tentacles are perceived as moving among them and towards the viewer, who – in return – observes chimerical creatures, animated, gazing back. Intently.
Tentacles discover and gauge.
They follow a tactile impulse, function as a measuring tool between the borders of the instruments and the shapes of the figures.
They follow a surface, an idea or both, they are about to grab a piece, pull it, conquer a portion of the space, create an alternate path.
They pull together paintings and instruments: the guitars have sound and the paintings have anecdotes to tell, both are very loquacious.
When one’s body moves among Bernhard’s creations feels part of something, witness to the process of transformation, like staring at anthropomorphic silhouettes which move intertwined to others, conjuring a seemingly magical world in which the borders of making – the ones of painting and constructing, assembling a musical instrument – broaden, bend, reach the object, the subject, and the gesture of composing: music and narratives.
Leaving the artist’s studio one wonders what will the pieces do once alone behind the closed door. Will they start to dance to the guitars music? Will they continue the conversation interrupted by the visitors and drink the coffee still hot and not finished – we had so much to talk about- we sipped before? Or will they drink some wine and smoke another one?
I am fairly sure the lady on the chaise longue in the drawing of Bernard will continue to lay there with her legs and arms comfortably stretched against the frame and a sly smile, sipping some wine. Maybe red. After all, she is very comfortable over there and the night is young ..