Jonathan Beer

Leipzig has an extremely strong history in the visual arts and continues to produce exceptional artists with each subsequent generation. The tradition of formal and expressionistic painting effectively molded past generations and produced the New Leipzig School, which includes artists like Neo Rauch, David Schnell, Martin Kobe, and Matthias Weischer. Now they are the teachers of the most recent generation of Leipzig artists, and cast a strong shadow on their students. As with anywhere, a few artists somehow escape the stylistic orbit of their locale and find an authentic voice for themselves.

Maria Sainz Rueda, who graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig in 2007, is one such artist. Rueda’s paintings are based on her attraction to simple yet uncertain spaces, a walled street extending to the horizon, an empty stage, the corner of a street. She harnesses the mysterious allure of a space glimpsed between two walls and builds a brightly hued dream world around the mystique of a double take experience.

In the beginning of her training she was mainly interested in portraiture, but after spending a year studying in Salamanca, she connected with the sublime landscape in the surrounding Spanish countryside. The horizon line came first, and soon after walls and roads appeared. She envisioned her spaces in a theatrical manner, creating a kind of wallpaper for the individual figures to exist within. The figures often face into the painting and away from the viewer, strengthening the pictures claim to be a reality independent from our own. Here, perhaps Rueda gives an unspoken homage to the Rückenfigur (figure seen from the back) of Caspar David Friedrich, the most known German Romantic landscape painter. The ambiguous psychological postures of Rueda’s figures also hint at an influence of American painter Edward Hopper.

In her most recent paintings she has “kicked out the figures,” leaving behind only the shimmering constructs of her worlds. The emptying out of her pictures injects these recent works with more room for imagination. She finds herself more guided by the process of applying and removing paint rather than working from one fixed idea, aptly describing her process as “finding and leaving traces.” According to the Rueda, the paintings “grow more” now that they are unbound from both any plan or time limit. This exciting shift is something that Rueda will continue and develop in her coming paintings.

Jonathan Beer (New York based Artist and Writer) in, 2012

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