Drawing on the language of geometric abstraction, the work of Kim Bartelt mediates on the ephemerality of our world and the hidden connections of contemporary human experience. Her use of a consciously restrained visual vocabulary, consisting of squares and rectangles, harnesses complex emotional states into seemingly controlled, harmonious compositions. Creating canvases that may at first appear solitary and silent, through contemplative engagement, reveal a pulsing inner landscape that captures the often fragile connection between the seen and the unseen, the permanent and transient.Read More
Bartelt's method of layering paper sheets of varying degrees of thickness onto canvas juxtaposes the clarity of the forms with the fine, intimate detail of the textured paper. This hybridised collusion of painting and sculpture opens up an energetic multiplicity of emotional and aesthetic possibility; poetic expressions that evoke ideas, memories and spirits of place. Her wide-ranging but nonetheless highly personal perspective has found her assimilate the core elements of the visual world, from landscapes, figures and architectural structures which are often then reimagined for our hyperconnected age. Their light-filled introspection reflects humankind's contemporary detachment amidst the complexity of an interconnected, globalised world.
The artist's ability to make every step in her creative process tangible, according to the writer and curator Lorena Juan, amounts to a 'study of the poetics of the connective tissue of life... silent mind maps of the support infrastructures running in the backdrop of our existence.' A point enhanced by the inherent dichotomy in her work created, in part, by her creative process, that, on the one side, strives for a sense of compositional order and stability, whilst being filtered through the intensely personalised dominion of their creator. In recent years, the artist's explorations of space and volume have continued into large-scale sculptural works – megalithic-feeling structures that are often made of deceptive, light-weight packing material.
Born in West-Berlin, Germany, Bartelt initially planned to study architecture but a series of events led to her studying art history in Paris, France before enrolling on an art foundation year at Parsons Paris. After moving to the US and finishing her studies in Fine Art at Parsons School of Design in New York, she took a job painting sets for large-scale commercial campaigns. It was there that she began taking an interest in the discarded sheets of paper used in the set designs. Collecting the paper in her studio, she slowly began incorporating it into her art practice, making impossibly light, minimal collages that, through their delicate translucence, appeared to transcend their own materiality.
Since returning to Germany in 2003, Bartelt has continued working on paper, often applied to the (unprimed) rougher side of the canvas. The artist cites a diverse range of influences on her work including Agnes Martin, J.M.W. Turner and the Early Renaissance artist Piero Della Francesca – whose 'ability to mix flatness with tight geometric forms and perspective continues to have a profound influence on (her) work'.
Text courtesy the artist