PAPERISM, Retrospective

Each year, the city of Heidelberg pays homage to an artist from the region in a retrospective exhibition in the Palatinate Museum of the City of Heidelberg which is accompanied by a catalogue. The title of the 2018 retrospective exhibition was PAPERISM and it was Bara Lehman-Schulz who permitted a comprehensive insight into her artistic work.

Bara Lehman-Schulz was born in Flensburg in 1946; the decision to become an artist was made early on and she began to study design, sculpture and painting in Düsseldorf (Germany), as well as in Besançon (France) and Göteborg (Sweden).

The time of early formation was followed by a period of experimentation in the areas of painting and sculpture. 1974 marked the beginning of her exploration of both, the sensibility of the senses and the sensibility of material things from which a series of creative concepts evolved. These included happenings in different landscapes and natural settings, all of which were documented by photographs and drawings. By the end of the 1970s paper is gaining in significance in her work. The different papers she employed in creating a great variety of objects had previously all served a function in everyday life, for example as packaging materials or as mats, causing them to become "embossed", showing traces resulting from folding or creasing, tearing, spotting, etc. Since the time of early experimentation with the described materials Bara Lehman-Schulz has continued to make use these papers in her work. While in the 1970s the objects were still small enough to be mounted in plexiglass boxes, in the 1980s she decided to do completely without the boxes, placing the newly created larger objects with titles like "Wing", "Sail". "Bridging", "Float", "Tent", simply leaning them against a wall. Other objects were installed free-standing or suspended freely in the room to accentuate the subtle transparency of some of the described objects.

In 1988 a series of large objects titled "Gates" made from the described paper was created and designed to represent symbols of stations along the path - a reference to past and future. The individual gates have two differently rendered sides, they are installed floating above the floor and invite the viewer to step through them. The series "Pennants" and "Towers" were created as symbols of the oneness of different layers of paper or cellulose which, like handmade paper, has since been employed with increasing frequency. Shortly thereafter different series of "Rods" were created: these objects are arranged variously, lying, standing, implanted or hanging, depending on the surrounding space. The exhibition PAPERISM has been installed in two adjoining rooms and a total number of 60 objects have been mounted here in relation to the architectural layout. While a large selection of objects of symbolic character can be viewed in the first of these rooms, the second, more austere showroom serves as the backdrop for works where free reign has been given to ever new variations of creativity. Interestingly, the objects mounted at the interface between the two rooms are titled "Net-Work" (1996) and "Transformations" (1997). Paper represents the most important element in the work of the artist; the square serves as the basic format of her individual creations. She frequently adds objects and materials that have previously served completely different purposes. This often leads to the creation of entire series of objects and installations characterized by a wide variety of formal expressions and an inherent sense of poetry and fragility.

For more than twenty years, and in an ever more purist manner, Bara Lehmann-Schulz has not only grappled with the two absolute entities of geometry in her work, but she has also addressed questions of mathematics, logic and philosophy. If there is one constant in her work, then it is this: no paper object is ever similar to another one, even if the starting position may be identical.

The present retrospective of the work of Bara Lehmann-Schulz underscores that thousands of ideas may be merged to transform a commonplace object of daily use into a work of art - i.e. an intangible idea is transformed into a material work of art; this in turn may lead to an initially immaterial process consistent with the aim of the artist to develop ever new variants of her creations. A high aesthetic value is Inherent in all of her objects of art. In other words, these works are characterized by the most immaterial of all characteristics, namely beauty. A great and invaluable rarity in contemporary art.

(Excerpt from the catalogue to the exhibition and the inaugural address held by Dr. Milan Chlumsky)