Moritz’s first abstract work was exhibited at the gallery in 2015 as a part of her exhibition, Harvest. It was closely related to her figurative painting, which employed photographs from post-war Soviet Union as source material. Continuing from this trajectory, Moritz’s explorations into abstraction grew through the development of her use of colour and the exaggeration of her brushstrokes, eventually progressing into this autonomous new series. These new large abstract paintings are intense compositions of dynamic impasto brushstrokes. Their vivid colours and forms evoke a wide spectrum of visual and emotional associations.

The relations between the figurative and abstract works become visible in their topics. Moritz states that the painting Inside the Heart “is about all that a heart has experienced in growing older: the pain, the love and joy, and the force to carry on.” This again reminds one of her earlier series Harvest, which depicted the work of the farmer women with the losses of the war still visible next to the blossoming nature and moments of lightheartedness. Though very different in their form, all of her works deal with fundamental human experiences and emotions, on a personal as well as on a collective level. As Moritz has said on the relation between her figurative and abstract paintings, “The basic subjects remain the same, but these are different ways of visualising them.”

The titles of the work often gesture to the interpretive qualities of the paintings themselves. This can be seen in Garden and Fire Flowers I & II. With blossom-like shapes rendered in intensive hues, these paintings refer to the natural landscape, while Inside the Heart pulsates with red and yellow tones shifting the associations to intensive human emotion. This is also apparent in the work, War in Heaven, where the abstract imagery becomes reminiscent of falling flames, referring to an imaginary scene. Metaphorical titles like 2038 and That is Written are even more ambiguous, inviting viewers to develop their own interpretations of the tension between the abstract compositions and their titles.

These abstract paintings are complemented in the exhibition by Moritz’s other more figurative works. They are part of her continuing series that explores architectural spaces, planes, ships, and still-lives. The series Inner Space 1–9 depicts an imaginary laboratory with tiled walls. Moritz initially introduced this motif in Lobeda (1991/92), a sequence of drawings entirely produced from memories of her childhood in the GDR, referring to her father who worked as a chemist.

The series of plane and ship drawings the artist has created are poetic interpretations of newspaper clippings. Detaching these found images from their original context, she produces symbolic, re-configured renditions of these photographs. The piece titled, Boat shows an old wooden rowing boat at the shore of a vast lake under a lavishly painted melancholic cloudy sky; while the foreground is arranged in short, tight lines, making her process visible.

Moritz’s choice to hang figurative works alongside the abstract renders visible the relationship they have to one another. Some abstract works echo details of the figurative paintings, evoking their own new visual associations.

Sabine Moritz (b. 1969, Quedlinburg) lives and works in Cologne. Previous solo exhibitions of Moritz’s work include: Eden, Galerie Johann König, Berlin (2018); Neuland, Kunsthalle Bremerhaven (2017); Dawn, Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris (2016); Harvest, Pilar Corrias, London (2015); Schiffe und Wasser, Felix Ringel Galerie, Düsseldorf (2015); Sabine Moritz, Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle, Wuppertal (2014); Home, Pilar Corrias, London (2014); Concrete and Dust, Foundation de 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg (2013); Limbo 2013, Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris (2013); Bilder, Felix Ringel Galerie, Düsseldorf (2012); Lobeda, Kunsthaus sans titre, Potsdam (2011). Selected group exhibitions include: Radziwill und die Gegenwart – Landschaft, Technik, Medien, Kunsthalle, Emden (2018); Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11, Imperial War Museum, London (2017); Faber-Castell International Drawing Award 2012, Neues Museum – Staatl. Museum für Kunst und Design, Nuremberg (2012); Awakenings, Felix Ringel Galerie, Düsseldorf (2010); The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Cultuurcentrum Mechelen, Mechelen (2010); Transvisions, bkSM, Strombeek/Brussels (2009). Text by Steffen Haug.