About 25 years ago, German artist Nicholas Bodde began painting stripes – parallel lines of various thicknesses in contrasting and complementary colors – and he never looked back. What has changed over the years is the form taken for his two-and three-dimensional abstractions, which touch on themes of European constructivism and Color Field painting.
For his new “Color Rhythm” exhibit at Gallery Sonja Roesch, Bodde offers a sampling from his chronological evolution in painting oil and acrylic on aluminum. Pieces include vertical and horizontal rectangles, circles, ellipses, dynamic shapes where the lines fan out with perspective and a pair of slim verticals. While it does not include samples of his triptychons, which he showed at The National Museum in Gdansk in 2009, the exhibit does include the next chapter in his work: a pair of stela, almost 10 feet in height, that can be displayed indoors or out. Bodde says that, although he showed in the German Embassy in New York about 15 years ago, he categorizes this exhibit as his United States debut. He has exhibited in solo and group shows in Seoul, Capetown, Paris and in several German galleries.
The overall feeling of his work is one of rampant cheerfulness and joy, with its vibrant colors shining like a new car factory, and sometimes even including a touch of sparkly automotive paint. The combination of scale, color palette and geometric form creates enough variety that the repetition of stripes never seems to get old.
Standouts include the happy-as-springtime No. 1186 Horizontal, a new rectangular piece anchored by a tiny stripe of pink. There is a dynamic interplay between a pair of three-inch-wide aluminum paintings, with the light pastel colors of No. 1140 Slim Vertical (yellow) on the left interacting with the saturated maritime hues of No. 1157 Slim Vertical (red) on the right; it’s so successful that the viewer can only hope the pair stays together.
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One of Bodde’s newer trends is his play on perspective, where the stripes escape the static parallels to venture out to an unseen great beyond. No. 1181 Horizontal Dynamic has a lot of energy, with the eye traveling from apple green to sunny yellow to the little sliver of turquoise at the top. The technique is repeated in No. 1173 Oval Dynamic, with its Easter egg hues, but it also creates an urge to rotate the piece to see how its energy changes. Although smaller in scale, the rectangular No. 1190 Horizontal Dynamic also is strong, allowing the tangerine and textured navy stripes to dominate the piece, accented by small strips of electric pink and orange.
The artist’s choice of colors is sublime perfection in No. 1121 Vertical, with the muted pinks and grays allowing the purple, blue and green to shine through.
His newest pieces, a tall and slender pair of lacquer and aluminum four-sided poles, look lovely in the cool, white interior of the gallery, and should really pop in a natural setting if placed outdoors.
“Color Rhythm” continues through August 27 at Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline, open Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-659-5424, gallerysonjaroesch.com. Free.