Armin Andreas Völckers (script writer, director) 
April 2008

In film, the creation of tension or suspense follows a relatively simple rule: in principle, the gap between the expectations of the main character and the result of his actions has to grow constantly. An example: Karl calls his wife in the office to find out whether they meet for lunch, but she never showed up there – instead, her kidnappers call in five minutes later. To let the audience experience suspense, the filmmaker has to meet their expectations, too, e.g. deliver a clearly defined genre. In comedy there’s a rule of “nobody gets hurt”, or if so, it’s not supposed to “hurt” the audience by making them think “How awful!”. Only the protagonists on the screen should feel pain - and then they are supposed to get up, dust their pants and forget about it. In drama, you can ruin a plot turning point with too much “comedic” silliness, and thereby ruin the whole film. In a cowboy film the audience does not expect aliens – if they appear, the genre shifts from Western to comedy or science fiction.

 
In painting, the genre expectation of the beholder is, that the main attraction would be paint on a canvas. Combinations of painted canvases with loudspeakers, moving objects or performances by the artist have not established themselves permanently in the art world. In abstract painting, the genre expectation of the beholder is to find a certain tension created by the painter, by means of composition, application and choice of paint, or any other matter of color. There are similarities to film: the eye of the beholder makes a journey, either organized in time or chaotic, through the perceptive space or over the surface of the painting. The “drama” of abstract painting is usually less emotional than that of a film, but it mustn’t be less thrilling. Contrasting colors “crash” into each other, colors “explode”, push, press, dominate, play, freeze, enchant, coagulate and so on, into unexpected, astonishing, uplifting, releasing or meditative structures and orders. Our knowledge of the world, our entire memory flows into that process of observing – even beyond association – and creates a mental experience, which in this reduction and directness is only to be found in painting. In its best examples, painting creates a “short circuit” of immediate, autonomic and non-cognitive access to our central nervous system, as Francis Bacon once put it.
 
 
Janine Gerber draws her spaces around the involuntary magic of stains. She tans her spaces of color, like a tanner (which in German is also her name, “Gerber” means tanner) combs, rolls and stains the leather with acid. This process seemingly warps the virtual space of the painting. Her paintings remind of the beating of unruly textiles into shape, of strangely immaterial processes of cleansing or purification; they are seemingly accidental findings of light, of a partial gleaming and glaring of empty space, that has been hit like wounds into the immaterial structure of what we see, it seems not so much to be an action of what happens on the canvas, but of what happens while we try to perceive and interpret it. This tension of letting-out rather than actually painting it, is atavistic, not in the sense of cave paintings or other folklore of the primitive, but in the rawness of the tension it creates in the beholders mind - by letting the light that is created only through colors, collide with primeval force. The tension in Janine Gerbers paintings does not come into existence on the surface on which she paints, but later, in our perception, and that gives her paintings an extraordinary appeal.
 
 
Unlike Clifford Still’s paintings, which draw their appeal from association despite the all-over of their relatively thick matter and their solid built, one can’t associate Janine Gerber’s "bodies of color" to anything – they evade a spontaneous reaction and judgment. Thus the “dramatic” journey that the eye takes through her paintings remains exciting. The eye never follows the same path twice, trying to figure out our own reaction, which slowly unveils the tension, not by labeling stains and brushstrokes with meaning, but by entering into a dialogue with yet unknown parameters and elements, which we can’t categorize by experience already stored. This futility creates curiosity and desire, a desire that many of the convincingly and conclusively painted paintings of the recent past don’t give us. Janine Gerber is an extraordinary painter with an extraordinary sensibility, and a secret – a secret that she has banished into the reactive environment of her paintings, and that we – hopefully –will never decipher.