Martin Schönfeld's review
Extract from the exhibition catalog "Carl Timner - Pictures and Works on Paper" Berlin Steglitz - Schwartzsche Villa, Gallery, Gruenewaldstr 55, 3 September - 26 October 2008
Article by Martin SchÖnfeld “An Art of Nuances” 2008
English translation from German
Modern civilization demands maximum clarity. What does not fit into any scheme, gives a sense of insecurity and raises questions. Demanding a differentiation to this structure challenges modern reasoning structured into patterns.
Carl Timner traveled with his artistic work the path of subtle resistance against the spirit of the time. He did not let himself be intimidated by the predominant currents, but he always turned towards what for him, personally, was and is a challenge from the point of view of content and also of art. Thus, after all, it is consequential that his work has had in the last fifteen years a new turning point, perhaps even surprising, and has branched out both on a formal and a thematic level.
Now, landscapes, natural motifs, portraits and depictions of figures, still lifes and urban views have come to the fore in his work. Compared to this the great thematic works and the paintings, referring to events, with which Carl Timner aroused above all in the 70s and 80s caused a great sensation, are overshadowed.
A process of generalization was therefore carried out for Timner. Because now he is increasingly turning to universal themes, which he represents in portraits and figure studies. The human body, with its twists, stretches or flexions, becomes the center of expressiveness for him. It is above all the female body, which Carl Timner always studies and varies again, which excites him with its lyrical forms. The model is therefore an important partner for his work. It gives him the sensory emotion and the associated inspiration for a new creative process.
In the past years also the pictorial language of Carl Timner was enriched: the hitherto dominant expressive realism of his works was expanded with nuances of new objectivity, but also impressionistic. They give his paintings a quiet splendor, accentuate the lyrical aspects and recall the specific atmosphere of a situation. It is above all nature’s motives that bring Carl Timner to an intense formal comparison: when, for example the play of light on the water, the wet autumn foliage or the reeds on the lake are represented in such a direct way, so virtuous and realistic, that the forms acquire their own autonomy.
In this way, the artist employs both a late Impressionism, which tends to the use of the informal, and an expressive realism. These works recall that Carl Timner oscillated in the formative phase of his production, between the influences of his teacher Corrado Cagli and the artistic environment around Renato Guttuso, between abstraction and figuration, before deciding in the early 60’s for a Contemporary Realism.
His most current painting poses the question of formal realization more incisively: starting from when the figure dissolves into its individual segments and therefore loses its shape and when the lines of color combine to become form.
Carl Timner shows the phases of the work of painting openly, with awareness. Precisely because it perfectly dominates the simulation of illusion and then puts it into question with its obvious brushstrokes. The spontaneity of the chromatic execution does not only refer to the elaborative process, but very consciously demonstrates the subjectivity of the artist linked to it. For Carl Timner, the realization of the form is inextricably linked to the object. This shows his charcoal and chalk drawings, in which he very differently investigates the expressive possibilities of the body. These human figures present their physicality in a very direct way to the observer and should immediately excite him. But Timner does not aim at an oppression but at the mediation of an authentic feeling, which he achieves through a rather spontaneous, very objective way of representation. Thus the figurative paintings stimulate reflection. The bodies seen, their delicate forms, yet so natural, are not forgotten, they are imprinted in the mind. In this Timner a realist is revealed again: here nothing is leveled or masked, but it does not become harsh even in a veristic way, but here individual nuances are laid bare, sketching a complex image of reality. It is precisely in this that Carl Timner’s style lies: in an art of nuances.