Meditations in an emergency: the programmatic title elevates the precarious and threatening moment to something permanent. It is the title of a book of poetry by Frank O'Hara, poet and curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The imagery of O’Hara is lush and associative, and has a startlingly similar pictorial idiom: descriptions of the ecstasy of hyacinths in their finery, lotus flowers that protect themselves from grime and filth, observations such as how easy it is to be beautiful, how hard on the other hand to feign beauty. Stella Bach’s approach expresses itself in analogy and intuition, it attempts to compare and match through the gestural process of painting/drawing. Attention is drawn to image motifs, the person’s thoughts are given expression, free of their symbolism.
The thoughts are in no way personified, but nonetheless are always referred to, as when, for example, Stella Bach combines character traits with plant images: An expression of pride combined with the modesty of the hazelnut; reflectiveness ("pondering" or "mooning around") gripping the foliage of the yellow iris, where again we find lovely clearness and purity; a wide forehead mirrored by a white lily, the two bound together by a black, velvet-like ribbon, as intimate as secret girlfriends. Sometimes the overpainting touches the face, becomes a helmet, a weapon, an escape. Sometimes it looks like a veil, or like feelers, groping to understand, spatial invasion, circles and tendrils, flung cloaks, inventive circles around the eyes and a wall behind the flower (as in the image of the dahlia).
Of course these flowers and motifs also follow and play with a visual language and the tradition of deciphering signs. White lilies, blue flowers, thistles and lotus blossoms are the symbols and topoi of mythical and religious imagery: they stand for purity and innocence, unending emotion, the passion of Christ, Buddhist purification.The gestural intervention reverses her degradation, tries to produce an adequate answer to questions that must be asked again and again: What is enough, what is needed, what can be?
> order the book
> order the collector's edition> order the box-set