Texts - Karoline Bröckel
Unpredictable drawing, seeing

Unpredictable drawing, seeing

Karoline Bröckel draws what she sees, what she hears. Her attention is drawn to the flight of a swallow, the paths of an ant, falling rain or snow, the branches of a tree moved by the wind. She watches these trackless movements or listens (sometimes again and again) to a piece of music. In the moment of her looking, listening - a phase of completely concentrated being with the thing - she transfers this continuous impulse of the movement directly into lines, they are a direct, detailed transcription of what she has seen, heard. Her gaze is directed exclusively to the process. Drawing is solely a matter of the blind hand, the sightless arm. Drawing, the artist concentrates entirely on the movement. Nothing else finds its way into the work. Whether the result is a coherent, valid drawing, only emerges in a process of later contemplation and recognition. Lines, line progressions, strokes, stroke structures can be seen. What motivated them is invisible, unimportant. Only a brief reference in the title of the works refers to what is seen, heard.

Even though Karoline Bröckel's drawings are individual works, they are created as groups, series, once begun are continued over years, expanded by ever new variants. Some series have their (annual) time, one depends on the flight of the swallows, others on the snowfall, the calls of the chiffchaff or the flowering of certain plants frequented by bumblebees and bees. Likewise, each group follows rules concerning the choice of drawing material - pencil or ink pen - format decisions, and the actual working process.
Each of these groups and series displays distinctive idiosyncrasies that set it apart from the others. The long horizontal trajectories, abrupt curves, and elegantly idiosyncratic loops of the series labeled "o.T. (Schwalben)" are clearly distinct from the zigzag lines of the group of works labeled "o.T. (Ameisen)." The sheets, motivated by acoustic impulses, are determined by consistently vertical strokes, strict, almost matter-of-factly uniform in the drawings of the series "o.T. (Zilpzalp)" and in all gradations of movement, pressure, density, (ir)regularity in those of the series "o.T. (Musik)".

On the one hand, the drawings detach themselves from their occasions. And yet something of the essence of these actually trackless events appears in the sheets. Movement peculiarities of animals, natural phenomena become clear. Qua association - the sparse title additions set it in motion - ideas, more or less clear own images, memories sometimes accompany the drawings and be it merely as a distant echo, as a reminiscence, which remains weak in view of the presence of the drawing, of the immediately visible. And yet the strangely sweeping up and down of the lines of the "o.T. (Birken)" works may capture something of the back and forth, up and down of the branches and twigs moved by the wind, and the downright percussive of rain pelting the ground becomes present in the violent, hurried staccato of the short, cut-like pencil strokes, at least as an inkling. Likewise, the leaves of the snow series show various types of snowing, floating and falling, wind-blown, gradual sinking, faster spinning or falling of the flakes can be distinguished. The individuality of the natural event is - translated, transformed - found again in the event of the drawing.

An exception among Karoline Bröckel's drawings, which otherwise always react to a specific event or action, is the group of works "o.T. (Stapelstriche)," begun in 2006, which is created without an external occasion, without direct reference to an object. The title "Stapelstriche" (stack strokes) names what is to be seen: short horizontal strokes, more or less of the same length, one above the other, placed close together and yet without touching, form vertical formations or stripes, always slightly moving, marked by tiny deviations. Stripes that cross the sheet as verticals, sometimes in perpendicular rigor and precision, sometimes as if swaying, tilting with slight bends, curvatures. The number of these stacks of strokes varies from sheet to sheet, just as the distances between them can be even, as if measured, or freely chosen, following an intuition. It seems as if something is being measured or counted, something continuous, to which interruptions of varying length are just as inherent as the uniform. Which beat is followed by the even placement of the strokes remains open. Without an occasion announced in the title, Karoline Bröckel follows her own impulse, stacks strokes (as if they were something material), one on top of the other, until the sheet is filled despite all emptiness, until it is drawing.

Karoline Bröckel's drawing is a concentrated act. It is necessary to be exactly on the point, to stay and to trace every detail of movement, every minimal change of direction, circling in the smallest space, a pause, and equally sudden, unpredictable turns, turns in the flow of the line or in tiny abbreviations. And even more, a rapid progression characterized by abrupt turns in three-dimensional space, which must be instantly transferred into the two-dimensionality of the drawing. It is necessary to keep this one thing in view, in the ear, to keep all attention there, at the path of an ant or the call of a bird, and to let what is perceived in this way become a line. Even if this after and after of the drawing stands for the viewer in the all at the same time of the drawn before eyes, it initiates a comparable concentration of the seeing, a tracing, which applies to the individual line (and likewise its entirety, its interaction, its through-one-another), its ways and detours, its uniqueness follows, like the artist in the drawing completely the seen movement follows, leaves itself to it.

Drawing, drawing lines, Karoline Bröckel follows visible (audible) but trackless processes, translates them into her drawings. She meticulously adheres to what she has seen and heard, always working in front of and with the object. She is interested exclusively in its own forms and possibilities of movement, its action in space. Whether they are wide-ranging like the flight of a swallow or small-scale, taking place almost on the spot like the tiny movements of nectar-collecting bumblebees and bees. In Bröckel's notes, his drawings of movements, they become works of line detached from all representationalism. The line itself - in all its manifestations, for example as a short, intricately running, suddenly breaking off single unit or as a seemingly plastic accumulation or as a structured, but inscrutably dense line structure - becomes an event.

The works of Karoline Bröckel are not line alone. It happens in front of, on, in the white of the paper. Everything possible is this paper white: material and ground, carrier of the drawn line, condition of the possibility of a line, its playing field, its area of development; not least emptiness, which is opened up by the line, filled. It can become space when the structure of the lines itself becomes readable as a plastic constellation, as is succinctly the case in the leaves of the works capturing the movements of branches and twigs of a birch tree. Or in a completely different way in the sometimes seemingly floating, layered dense strokes of the "o.T. (Music, Aufzeichnungen)" works, which let the paper appear as a bright, spatially open background.

Not to be overlooked is the supporting, equal role of the paper white in the recently begun series of works "o.T. (Zilpzalp)", which is equally weighted to the linear. The areas between the columns of short, precisely juxtaposed strokes seem generously proportioned. The distances between the horizontal rows of strokes, reminiscent of a count, vary strikingly. The white becomes the space in between, suggesting an interruption of what is noted with the activity sign of the strokes. The white here is silence, intervening time, a period to be traversed. In fact, this is the graphic transposition of the call of a Common Chiffchaff; the onomatopoeic name of the bird describes its simple song. Each sound unit of this call corresponds to one of the lines noted. If the bird interrupts its song, Karoline Bröckel moves the pencil along at the same speed as the strokes, without touching the paper, making it a visible measure of the time of silence, until the Common Chiffchaff can be heard again, and a correspondingly long or short series of strokes records its song. If the call finally breaks off completely, the paper remains white, untouched, empty, and yet here too, it is still a drawing of the passing of time.

The drawings cannot be foreseen in the process of their creation, in the drawing. Unpredictably they arise with time, with a view to something or in reaction to audible. What they become will become apparent. There can be no conception preceding the drawing. Only in this way, as something unforeseen, can these lines, line overlays, these wiggles, scribbles, abbreviations, bumps, swings, grips, crooked curves, reversals, intersections arise. They are as little to be thought out, invented, as they can arise as mere gestures, expressive expression, or drawing of states of mind. By refraining from a need for expression of her own, Bröckel achieves the entire individuality and uniqueness of what she draws. By decoupling the line from her intentions, by binding it closely to the impulses of her movement models, it becomes a surprise. Alienating, in a strange way beautiful, haphazardly new and inexplicable in its drifting, sliding, falling, hesitating, breaking off. She leaves the line free. She shows it as an event of movement, as a condensate of an ever-moving, thus changing world. The drawing captures all of this, lifts it up.

Jens Peter Koerver