The Painting that Dives into the Invisible

POSTED IN Blog Tags Paintings AUTHOR Lennart Goebel

Living in Brazil since 2003, the German painter Lennart Goebel reflects in his recent paintings a sense of rebirth and discovery of a new world. His works are affiliated to the current of figurative expressionism, so the colors are born directly from the artist's emotions, not a simple naturalistic portrait of the world.

The expressionist painter dedicates himself to the subjective values of the screen, rather than the objectivity of the banal world. He expresses his instinctive and also irrational nature in his paintings, he follows the impulse of his personal passions. What the artist wants is not the objectivity of expression, although his human figures are close to realism. He receives psychically and mentally visions which he recreates on the canvas, from the inside out, thus externalizing individual reflection. In the process, the world is not depicted, but recreated with the eyes of the soul, with the inner vision of the artist.

The signs of this adventure are multiplying in this game of intensities, which plays out on each canvas. The colors are vivid, they are the primal screams of the artist. The brightness is brokered by white matter that becomes dynamic over the bodies of the characters: life shines, communicates Lennart.In general, the beackgrounds of his paintings have bright, tropical colors. The eventual use of cool colors, like dark blue, emerald green or lilac make a dynamic contrast with the warm colors - and the result is not chromatic disharmony, but rather a coexistence of opposites, complemantary contrasts, which increase the voltage energy within each screen.

The last exhibition of Lennart Goebel, at the bookstore Largo das Letras de Santa Teresa (neighborhood where the artist resides) had the suggestive title The Mystery of Look (O mistério do olhar). Here the artist has exposed a number of female figures, most beautiful black women ("besides Brazil, black women are also a new continent that I'm discovering," confesses the artist). And where is the mystery? It springs from a woman, that we should not see as reflections of desire and interest of the painter opposite sex. Lennart projects his anima, his female counterpart in every woman who paints.

At this point, let's recall the theory of analytical psychology Carl Gustav Jung: anima is the inner female nature contained inside a man, and the animus is a masculine force acting in the psyche of a woman. Although anima and animus manifest in different ways, they have certain characteristics in common. The are psychic images and work within people as antagonistic forces. These psychic components are subliminal consciousness and work from within the unconscious psyche. Hence, they are beneficial to consciousness, because they act as guides of the soul and may become necessary links in order to develop creative possibilities, and also important tools for the process of individuation - for Jung the transformation by which a person overcomes his social mask (persona) and becomes herself, reaching its oneself (his Self, in Junguian terms).

Thus, the paintings of the female figure Lennart is not only a representation of the opposite sex and complement: it is also an intuitive, symbolic experience of the artist's own female sensibility, a psychic vector who shows him the path of inner growth.

In this psychological perspective, Lennart's paintings have two possible readings. The reading of the figurative content in the works: a woman against the backdrop of the scenery of Sugar Loaf, three women dancing samba, a Bahian woman offering flowers to Yemanja (Brazilian Goddess of the sea). The other is the reading of the symbolism of each painting, which the artist himself discovers only after the painting is ready and he meditates on it.

A fine example is the framework Gospel Choir or Central Brazil (2011). Witness the artist:

"The old woman in the foreground is a disembodied being, lifeless. She is like a ghost wandering spectrum. Like Europe, the old world which I left behind because I felt no longer motivated. The young girl is my soul, who ventured to discover a new world. This new world is not yet fully known. A new landscape partly revealed, partly obscured by a haze. This picture, to me, is like a year ending, symbolizes my departure from Germany. And another picture, Bahian Woman with Flowers (2010), represents for me the beginning of the new year, the life we discover in a new world. "

Another painting of great symbolism is The Beauty and the Snake (A Bela e a Cobra Boa) (2008), which depicts a black woman dominating a snake gently with her hand, against the backdrop of Guanabara Bay and the Sugar Loaf. In the words of Lennart:

"I am very interested in symbolism. For me, the snake is a natural energy, which the women does not fight, but rather controls gently."

You may note here, that Lennart's painting recalls card XI in the Tarot, The Force, which shows a drawing of a woman dominating the ferocity of a Lion with his gentle ways. The ideas are similar: the real strength is subtle, not violent ...

And so we enter the realm of archetypes, which for Jung are the archaic images that are rooted in the collective unconscious of humanity, and tend to mold psychic phenomena. Being associated with sexual energy, the human libido, embodies the snake to Jung, "the lower psyche, the dark psyche, what is often incomprehensible, mysterious."

And so the title The Mistery of Look which Lennart gave his prior exhibition reveals it's deeper meaning: it refers to the symbolism of his paintings, many mysteries. The painter adds:

The eyes are the window to the soul. I have a look the the soul of the person first who I am going to portray through painting. I want to express her inner temperament. The German Expressionist painter Franz Marc did something similar, he painted horses, dogs, cats and cattle expressing the essence of these animals like no one else. Even if a look reveals the soul, there is always a mystery too, an inner dimension that remains impenetrable. My painting is figurative, yes, but I try to look at what is invisible, hidden behind every look. "

In this process, each of Lennart's paintings has its symbolic dimension of mystery. The work Green Golden Sun Beam (Raio de luz) (2008), for example, the artist notes that "the light awakens something in this person." Thus, "the woman's body is turning to the new light which appears, for me, this is a reflection of a changing situation, is a reflection on new data that is transforming lives."

And so the painter communicates us, too, that our interior is light and shadow. His picture tries to show the need to get the balance between these two aspects of the human psyche. In the light, there is no need to fight the shadow. Our psyche should rather incorporate our dark side, because, as the painter says, "the light will come naturally," the light of consciousness that reveals something new ...

In summary, Lennart Goebel works a lot with his intuition, which operates in image form, images that he will translate into painting. Then, reflecting on the symbolic aspects of each work, he discovers the true meaning of each set of images. Thus, the image (in the mind and in the paint) presents itself as the superior form which can transmit new knowledge, encoded in symbolism.

The landscape itself does not escape this projective process. If Chinese artists have reason to assign more importance to landscape than men, signalizing that the macrocosm tis superior to microcosm. The landscape is the place to visit for everyone who seeks to cultivate its original nature, the place where joy reigns, and we can be ourselves, totally free of our cultural conditioning.

Lennart depicts the landscape and Carioca women as a welcoming a new world, and doing so, he reminds us of the spirit of Paul Gauguin who rediscovers his own original nature while painting the native Tahitian, a paradise, made of wild colors and full of joy.

Mario Margutti - art critic