Juergen PuetzGoing up-close is what one owes to the exhibition of abstract paintings and digital works by Juergen Puetz, which is on display at Pitanga until the 13th of September.

When one meets Juergen, the first thing one notices is, not only the warmth of his eyes, but also, and even more, their depth. His soul is about the 3 Hs: Heart, Home and Hearth; and staying and looking at the paintings up close you will understand why.

Abstract is neither a given nor about reality and conformism. Its unresolved nature is part of its authority. It intimates secrets that seem both personal and cosmic, but it does not spell everything out. Your own individualised complex mind will do the rest.

When first looking at Juergen’s paintings, your first question will tend to be “What is this about?’ But that won’t take you very far and you must be willing to think more creatively. Juergen’s work is about texture and alchemy.

This German painter arrived in Auroville in 1973 and worked for years in afforestation and water conservation. Now he is using all his connection to and his knowledge of nature to produce his art pieces. In his case, the canvas is meant to be the remnant of the artist’s specific interaction with natural materials, like leaves, soil, branches and paint, which give it the non-flat, effect. He mixes the laterite red soil of Auroville with enamel paint to get a textural chemical reaction and to cause it to break up. So when you get close up, you could stay for hours and grow into the composition, the texture, the colours and the substance.

But Juergen’s work is also the work of time and alchemy. He discovered that charcoal and gold are friends and enhance each other. One of the pieces that looks like part of the cosmos is an older painting, which dates from 2 1/2 years ago. Layers of bee’s wax were added to finish it. The two completed golden paintings are made of leaves that he collected 6 months ago. They are worked into a paint made with lac on which gold powder has been blown.

But in this exhibit, the master art-piece of this magician-alchemist is his digital painting of Sri Aurobindo. By adding paint on the black and white painting of Sri Aurobindo, he has made the photography come alive. With games of what could look like black obscure technique, one feels transported into a Caravaggio or a de La Tour painting: The density, the depth, the colours of the face are suddenly alive. Like a flaming bush, a blessed and powerful light enters every particle of the face, the beard is flamboyant with light and texture, the whole painting shines with divine power and I would not want anymore than this on my wall.

This article was written by Chana Corinne Devor for Auroville Art Service. Presently exploring Auroville, she is an art critic and writes for international travel and spiritual magazines.