Sibylle Geiger

Painter and Costume Designer

Sibylle Geiger' colours 

There is something extraordinarily pure in Sibylle Geiger's lines, a way of dosing colour and giving shape to her visions, which she proposes as clear, deep images. Our first sensation before the twenty canvases on exhibit in “Al Vicolo” gallery in Vicolo Sforza Cesarini, near Piazza dell’Orologio, is that this is a person who really knows what to do about their dreams, but in the most exquisitely pictorial way. Meaning that there is nothing artificial about that sort of “veil” we glimpse in many of her works, the almost metaphysical dreamy touch. Geiger really manages to gently lead us into her canvases, to show us her world in a very natural way. This kind of superimposition of reality and imagination is the cornerstone of much contemporary painting, but it is also present - and why shouldn't it be? - in cinema, the theatre, literature. How many times have we appreciated a verse of poetry for its natural ability to lead us into a dream, or call up particular sensations for us? In the Swiss artist's career there is definitely room for evolving an instinct for clarity. It will be sufficient to consider her vast experience as a costume and scenery designer: in Paris with Yves Bonnat, then in Stuttgart, Berlin, Munich; an infinite amount of work with important people, until in 1962 she came to Rome to work as costume designer in film for fourteen years. One work we particularly appreciate in which we can see her scene and costume designer's imagination at work is “Metamorfosis”, dated 1995. A street that might be Trastevere, but it is not this that interests us about it. It is “the” street, and we make it our own; it is an image suspended in time with which we are in tune, the vibrations of which we perceive. It is perhaps this sense of waiting, of “standby” as today's technicians would say, that reminds us of the sense of waiting that we get when watching certain films. But it is this wait that is sublimed, meaning charged, boosted, enriched with a lot of little things. For instance, the colours in the clothes, superimposed in a rather unusual way, to the point that they intentionally ignore certain rules of perspective; and yet this is laundry as we remember it. Like the slight shadow in the doorways, which makes them alive, lived-in. This way of playing with light can also be found in another work: “Arco de’ Tolomei”, also dated 1995. The shadow in the doorways of the two buildings on the right side of the painting does justice to their plasticity, to a way of playing with patches of light. The space of the street is itself suspended, almost as if wrapped in mist.
This mist, this way of playing with light makes paintings such as “Ideal city” dated 1996 and “Bosnia” dated 1995 precious clues to an imagination that also invites us to reflect in silence. As Roberto Curi writes in the information included in the lovely exhibition catalogue: "Glimpses of a better world, dazzling reminiscences, the shaded landscape in a well-defined horizon that restores interesting moments, brings them back to life and puts them in context to make the most of them: this is perhaps what the artist has to offer us."

Max Balazs

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