140 x 140 cm
Acrylic on canvas
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
Rita Ernst (born 1956 in Windisch, Switzerland) composes visual music when she paints. In her early work associated with Constructivist Art, she uses colors as musical notes, while geometrical structures create a vibrant rhythm. Although Rita Ernst’s work is closely linked with the first generation of Zurich Concretes, she does not feel committed to any kind of dogma. Instead, she has always remained independent, continuing to build on her system of elementary pictorial means. After choosing Sicily as a second home, her colors became brighter and more Mediterranean. At the beginning of her artistic career, she began developing catalogs of shapes, based on quartered squares drawn on plotting paper, which she then uses as building blocks in her works for trying out additive strategies, superimpositions, and constellations of combinations.
In her large work “Progetto Siciliano” (1997), she replaced the grid of the plotting paper with the floor plans of old Sicilian churches, castles, and paradise gardens. Along with the patterns of historical floor tiles she began using later, these classic floor plans have become the starting point of her pictures. They are also interesting for the artist as palimpsests that provide insight into the deeper structures of Sicily as a melting pot of European cultural history.
Rita Ernst works with the architectural and geometrical rules she finds in these floor plans by breaking them in a playful manner. Sometimes, she merely highlights where the windows are placed in the walls; other times, she focuses on the shapes or outlines of the rooms themselves. The remaining graphic signs, rectangles, circles, and contours, whose origin is virtually unrecognizable, are what define the typical aesthetics of Rita Ernst’s pictures.
In the work from the black-and-white “Cristallina I–V” (2007) series in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, the floor plans of the historical Castelli that were used as models are only barely recognizable. Rita Ernst uses the playful placement of color fields to create a stimulating dynamic between positive and negative forms, signifier and signified, random and ordered structures, while the white fields that stand out between the rhythm of horizontal and vertical stripes evoke a multi-layered pictorial space in which figure and ground are thrown into a playful relief.
Dominique von Burg