On the occasion of the single exhibition of works by Elisabeth Sula at the Austrian Tobacco Museum (Österreichisches Tabakmuseum), Vienna 1995.
By Dr. Georgia Illetschko, art historian
Elisabeth Sula’s delight in experimenting is virtually palpable. Her multi-faceted creativity allows her to vary techniques, media, picture languages with a yet consistent coherence in contents. Prompted by the surrealists’ liberating lesson on the playful handling of materials, Elisabeth Sula started to produce collages in the 80ies; grass, leaves, driftwood, noodles or caster sugar met the colours on canvas and paper. Phases of expressive-gestic painting were followed by photo overpaintings, collages, experimental prints.
In 1986, the artist’s painting style starts to rise off the wall. The paintings grow bodies, into the room; they become "picture objects", without, however, leaving the wall completely to become a free-standing sculpture. While with the freely floating “sounding bodies“ of 1986, the surface of the canvas appears to unroll into the room, in the “Frame-Conditions” created at the same time, it is increasingly replaced by string and grid structures; merely the frames may remind of a painting.
In the years to come, painting returns to two-dimensionality. However, the method of relief painting with its use of plaster bandages and the incorporation of copper foils and metal wires remain integral design elements.
From 1991 onwards, pure white appears again, along with the preciously glistening metallic surfaces of the bronze and copper paintings and her expressive-gestic painting. The monochrome of the white emulsion paint only faintly indicates the relief of the incorporated paper machés. These symbols are drawings in a strictly reduced form language and – at the same time – stand for the artist’s theme densely transformed into concise signs: search for meaning - vision - portal - soul - day/night ....
In her symbolism, Elisabeth Sula follows a syntax consistently worked out over the many years she had been exploring the symbolism of archaic cultures. The artist defines her artistic activity as "shaping and mediating the original language we all have in common“, and the pivotal role of her works in the creative materialisation and mediation of spiritual contents.
Dr. Georgia Illetschko
Vienna, autumn 1995