Elisabeth Sula and her paintings

“In art you can only reach profundity when you fathom your own inner depths.“ This notion of Elisabeth Sula could be the motto of her painting, and she gained this insight both during her studies – apart from studying painting with Oswald Oberhuber, she also studied philosophy in Vienna – and during her manifold and long stays in India. It was in India in particular where she found a spirituality largely missing in Europe which, despite all problems and worries of everyday life, leads to the conclusion that life without spiritual dimension is bound to degenerate into materialistic superficiality.

Elisabeth Sula has brought this experience and insight to bear on her art. She manages to convey a world in her paintings that seems to be simple, yet, like everything that looks simple, is also highly complex. At first sight, her paintings present a colourful light-heartedness, the clear colours, the symmetrical compositions and patterns represent a positive world that have a direct effect on the hasty beholder. Though, only at second sight you realise the depth, the punches which are used as patterns and serve as an organising principle that frame the spaces and at the same time open them up. They lead us behind the facade that suddenly becomes a window behind which a world opens up to us and leads us into unknown spaces. The painted frames border the painting as if to protect them, but they don’t constrict them as the view is directed towards depth, fathoming mysterious spaces.

Elisabeth Sula’s paintings not only lead to depths, but heights as well. Colour ribbons direct our view to unknown heights that are yet firmly fixed in an imaginary ground. They open up like vessels or close to form a hint of a circle that seems to embrace all and everything, life and death.

The same applies to the numerous floral paintings, they are not simply flowers growing in the garden, but rather symbols, signs. They are the potential of the inner mood. In return, the paintings that remind us of oriental rugs, represent Elisabeth Sula’s gardens, her substitute gardens, no real or Monet-like gardens, but rather gardens of the inner longing for quiet, order and the silence of being. In a series of paintings called “Healing Room” that she presented in an exhibition in the Wiener Privatklinik her intention becomes clear: through meditation she has experienced the healing power herself, and both her spiritual work and her Reichian body work of many years have shown her how to use these healing powers that stem from ancientsources and which you have to trustingly relinquish to. A medical center,
of course, is a place of healing – the true place of healing, however, can only be found within each of us. Wilhelm Reich’s vision of the de-armored, vividly flowing human being, who needs an adequate social environment
for his support, is highly inspiring for the artist. Creating islands that strengthen our resources within a sick, since armored society is of particular importance to her.

Elisabeth Sula’s painting is colour and composition. She paints in strong, almost pure colours, bright and powerful. Colour – again and again – red for the colour of life, green for growth, yellow for the light. And she converts her non-representational, geometrical or plant motifs into both statics and movement, into 2 and 3 dimensions. You can feel her joy in doing, as a profoundly felt insight into life and creation caused by this inner certainty that delivers strength and balance, and which is a precondition for artistic expression.

Angelica Bäumer
Cultural journalist and author
November 2007