More than anything else, Sabine Boehl’s latest works were created in light of the overwhelming impression Istanbul has made on her. We can almost talk of an inspirational burst triggered by the energetic megapolis. The works are marvelously concentrated and penetratingly intense. They describe the restless endeavor to capture the beauty of the moment and reflect it in images and words. The title of the series, “How Many”, refers to the fleeting impressions that we find fixed on the canvas in the form of questions. These are wonderfully poetic notations of ethereal lightness that now take their place on the oscillating monochrome of the canvas. The words link up as if freed of gravity’s pull. To choose just one example from the canon of the series: “How Many Rose Petals Left Their Spirit To Be Transformed Into Rose Water?”
A vibrant deep red based on a square. Not least the “all over” of the red bead relief can be read as an homage to the pioneers of color field painting. The legibility of the empty spaces framed by fragile bead borders that then form the letter is essentially unintentional. We can clearly discern the influence of Islamic calligraphy here. But while the hand of the calligrapher generated letters from images, the letters in Sabine Boehl’s works turn into the images. Like the words carved on archaeological finds, we have to expose them letter by letter to find the added poetic value they have.
Even the role of art as the visualization of a stance toward life and the world as championed by Albers at Black Mountain College does not do justice to this approach. The piece goes beyond the individual representation of the present as considered by many to be the status quo. As in physics, the artist seems here to be searching for a universal formula that encapsulates all the allusions and references. Beneath the glittering reflections of the sea of beads, unfathomable images appear, sending the viewer crashing into a vortex of present and past, myths, ideas, and references. We can speak here of a catharsis of the eye that sensitizes us to taking an undistorted view of how we address the past, in fact, enables us to do so in the first place.
Let us not forget that the unmistakable character of Sabine Boehl’s images results above all from the fact that she has found a way out of the dilemma of the zeitgeist and avoids a mere repetition of what previous generations attempted. Sol Lewitt once captured this with great trenchancy when he said: “Every generation renews itself in its own way; there’s always a reaction against whatever is standard.”