In 2009, when Felix Lippmann graduated from the Academy and became a master student with Prof. Elke Hopfe, I was already privileged to talk about his work. Back then I gave the opening speech at a joint exhibition with two fellow artists, and I remember concluding the speech by saying that his pieces of art would have me “watch full of expectation where his path may lead him.” Now I know that it has led him onto familiar territory and I am glad to follow him there today together with you in the scope of his first solo exhibition.
This territory is not far away, the path is not long. Felix Lippmann's familiar terrain might just be around one or two street corners – and yet, rather than an exact place it is a sensation which equips him with more than a yearning for the unknown could bestow upon him. The assurance of treading safe ground has sharpened his gaze instead of clouding it. He watches consciously and permanently approaches what he has already seen hundreds of times with an alert and critically reflecting eye. Thereby he is able to extract ever-new, hitherto unknown nuances from familiarity, to disclose subtle realms of space, structure and colour, whose spirits he absorbs until they find their artistic equivalents. In fact he draws from what remains hidden to others.
Already in 2009 I was fascinated by his ability to delve into the depths of a simple matter, or in the words of Konrad Adenauer: “Seeing things so deeply that they become simple.” At that time, for instance, his cat's jolly tussle transformed into the powerful and rough piece “Beim Spielen,” which was totally reduced to the creature and its movements. Back then, he was already focusing on the accurate proportion between line and shape, plain and space, abundance and void. Whereas his works at that time bespoke the artist's struggle of the balancing process, such exertion has become a joyous contest accepted with spontaneity and more freedom.
After concluding his studies he has found this freedom together with the artist Lutz Bleidorn in a joint studio on the premises of the Bienertmühle in Dresden-Plauen. The place – close to nature and heavy with culture – allows for vistas over an ever-fascinating urban landscape and for working in the artist's own pace, the artist's own way. Freely choosing his perspectives (sometimes working “without head,” as he says), he opens up novelties and reflects on the state of mind through self-perception, aided by old lithographs from his days of study and in succession if necessary. Increasingly frequently he finds both the energy and the rest to order in the image's space his perceptions of his environment and of topics which move him (food industry, animal stock-rearing), thus “ordering the self” (W. De Kooning). Daily routine becomes image, image becomes daily routine. Yet it would be misleading to speak of everyday profanities, for beyond worn-out paths the familiar seeks to be constantly conquered anew on canvas. No worn-out paths anywhere.
Who wants to find images has to look for answers to many questions. Questions like what is in front, what is in the back and what happens in between, where do movements go, which elements are self-contained and benefit the image and which are not? Often Felix Lippmann works on a piece of art for weeks, despairs and discards, gains courage again and creates anew, wrestles for sometimes non-existing answers. He has found those answers for his works “Plauener Blick I/II,” “Atelierausblick II/III,” “Plauener Wildnis” and “Hinterhof I.” With swift gesture and a delicate, intuitive sense for colour he shapes the matter on canvas, creates atmospheric spaces next to tension-filled surfaces and thereby creates reference points providing halt to the eye next to structures in which it may get lost. The artist moves safely between different levels and layers of colour, between narrow and wide, pastose and tender, precise and abstract, finally reaching an increased associative perception in the course of overcoming those extremes.
The same holds true for his drawings, which only came into being this winter when cold conditions did not allow for oil on canvas and which surely must have come as a surprise for Lippmann as well. Through the sole variations of the charcoal stroke, through its blurring and compaction, he is able to uncover what seems valid to him and to convert inanimate playgrounds and backyards into very much familiar places. As much as these drawings are obviously closely related to his oil paintings, they nonetheless stand their ground next to them so independently that they might as well mark the first steps on a new path into familiar territory.