Rocco Pagel studied in Dresden at the end of the 1990s. If he hadn’t done this, his paintings would not have chalk grounds built up in many layers and sanded countless times. The painting would be a mere varnishing technique, not a layered alternation of egg tempera and oil, a fast drying method, requiring further repeated sanding. Due to the rich layers of glazes, changing light conditions allow the paintings to shimmer with a thousand nuances, just as the grey of morning shifts over a single day to the red of evening, illuminating the same scene in a thousand different ways. In the case of Rocco Pagel’s watercolours, it is a garden in the south of France planted in 1840 upon which this light falls. Here Pagel worked en plein air, immersing himself in the garden’s artful sophistication, and the exotic plants with their promises of wild and far-away lands. Here the roots of the garden grew deep into the cultural landscape as well as the French soil, and drew a distant mountain chain above the slopes of the vineyards up into a looming Kilimanjaro.
Pagel’s oil paintings are created in the studio, and here too without the use of artificial light. Pagel’s way of seeing is completely unstrictured, no fore, middle or background structure his paintings, but even so they do not disappear into complete abstraction. Instead they overflow with diverse evocations of the elements of landscape: horizon, wall, cloud, hedgerow, sea.
Click here for a review of this exhibition by Jens Asthoff published in Artforum