Karin Radoy Dialog
Juliane Rogge
Karin Radoy
Juliane Rogge

Karin Radoy’s work is dedicated to the »relationship between colour and form in space.«¹ This specific dialogue is probably the constituent moment – in which her artworks manifest in their own specific rhythm, the dialogue between painting and sculpture, colour and form, surface and volume, that between the whole and its parts, and most certainly between the artwork, the space, and wall surfaces, and ultimately between the object and the viewer.

In her work, painting and sculpture are engaged in such a close dialogue that they must simultaneously be regarded as – »bodies of colour with a great sensual presence«.² The artist comes from classical painting, her element is colour and its appearance, representing the exemplification of the sounding out of »contrast, interplay, intensification, and the mutual influence of colour appearance, and pictorial space«.³ Karin Radoy defines her pictorial concerns »not« as »the meaning or function of colour […], but of its effect on the the interplay of figure and painting ground, the depth of gradation that simultaneously creates and questions order. Contrasts form: light to dark, warm to cold, simultaneity. Colour keeps the eye moving, characterised by autonomy and intensity. There is movement in which surface becomes space and colour becomes light.«⁴

These dialogues between colour values and colourfulness, between (two-dimensional) form, surface, and space, characterise Karin Radoy’s work overall, and her painterly works on paper in particular. The colour fields are created by means of several layers of colour laid one on top of another, which to the eye, blend, yet, at least in part, remain comprehensible in their component form.

Karin Radoy’s three-dimensional works, too, initially appear almost monochrome in their entirety, i.e. uniformly coloured; in the more recent works, the surface appears particularly dense and closed. Birgit Sonna⁵ characterised the colour surface of the sculptural works as a »cast-like material of translucent luminosity that stretches over the pictorial body like a tight skin«, which on closer inspection reveals itself to be a deep pictorial space composed of countless individual colours and shades – several dozen layers of translucent paint that Karin Radoy applies with a spatula. In dialogue with the smooth, self-contained and uniform surface is an impressively perceptible complexity, fascinating depth and accessibility

The special technique also creates a very lively structure of painting, which is opposed to the rather strict, self-contained and clear, precise (surface) form of its picture carrier. The format and the specific colour influence each other: the colour can make the form appear larger or smaller, for example, just as the form modifies the appearance of the colour. Both are in dialogue with each other, a dialogue that develops under the artist’s hand – according to a specific concept, yet not according to a preordained plan. In painting, both chance and the unforeseen get their space, while form needs exact calculation.

Karin Radoy is a painter, but for the love of painting she is also a sculptor using thin, flexible wooden plates to build optimal supports for her paintings. But these also bear witness to her extraordinary spatial sensitivity. They are voluminous, even if they remain rather narrow-sighted and with a limited view, rather concentrated on the front.

Their surface is velvety, completely self-contained and without structure. It is necessary that the wood’s own colouration, and its grain, be treated with a thorough gypsum primer. Merely the wood’s own colour structure – its grain – has to be extinguished with a thorough gypsum primer.

What these wooden bodies have in common with classic picture carriers – canvas, hardboard – is the presence of a square surface with predominantly straight (but in some cases also curved) edges, which therefore, may not lay flat against the wall, but may be rather inclined at an angle from the wall, and in some instances, particularly in more recent works, being quite exceptionally and sensuously curved and arched.

These surfaces, which are not flat, are again in dialogue with the objects’ voluminous, physical spatiality – and it is precisely this voluminosity and colourfulness that creates a communicative interaction between the two. The colour can also make the object appear lighter or heavier, more massive or more delicate. And the objects also make the colours »sound« – »resonance boxes for colour sounds«, as Wilhelm Warning has called them.⁶

Karin Radoy developed these sculptural, completely painted⁷ picture carriers from the question of how to position her paintings in space, their positioning is adaptable; they can also be pivoted. How are they to be presented, what is their relationship to the wall (and thus/therefore to the space), can and should they enter, are they to be framed, hung, placed?

They are, would one like to find a term for them, wall objects, that is, objects which, like classical panel painting, first and foremost present a square surface and are closely related to the wall (i.e., hanging), but which nevertheless have a special physical quality and creative, modifying power in the spatial sense. As part of the space they are in a dialogue with the wall.

This complex, delicate, and extremely sensitive interplay is further modified by the work’s position in relation to the wall of the space. This ratio is important for the artist in every hanging situation. In addition, the specific light of each position influences the appearance and perceptibility of the colours. According to Hans-Peter Riese however, Karin Radoy consciously uses colour as a »space-settling, space-constituting force«⁸ – »it transforms space.«⁹

A characteristic feature of Karin Radoy’s works is their multipart nature, which underlines their physicality and three-dimensional form in a special way. Furthermore, a result of this plurality is that the works are dialogical in themselves, that is, they are characterised by communication of the individual elements with each other. A good dialogue is characterised by a well-balanced power – so it is also a vertical, non-horizontal separation or structure of the individual components that Karin Radoy’s works created already very early on. The works often consist of two parts (but sometimes also of more elements), whereby the elements are separated but densely connected by a fugue-like counterpoint, positioned next to each other, they particularly appear as a unit as a result of their common, identical colouration. In fact, these elements often also have an identical, rotational or mirrored form.

The individual elements can be rotated and exchanged at will, even by the viewer. This experience promotes an awareness of the extent to which the format, proportions, structure and orientation of the work on the wall, i.e. in space, influence its plastic, spatial appearance. The experience of randomly rotating and exchanging the individual elements enhances the awareness of how much the work’s format, proportions, structure, and orientation to the wall, i.e., in space, influence its sculptural and spatial aspect.

Both the specific physical appearance and the colourfulness of Karin Radoy’s works have a magic that cannot unfold completely in illustration, but only with direct experience. Although her works themselves are rather silent and reserved, they invite physical manipulation by the viewer. In this way only can the volumes, the pliant surfaces, and above all the complex colours – bearing a resemblance to that of a crystal in structure and colour perceptibility¹⁰ – be adequately grasped. Looking from a distance one can experience the relationships to space, but also the plasticity of the bodies, the close-up view entices one to linger, especially through the sensual surface design, the depth effect of the multi-layered, differentiated colour surface.¹¹

From all these points of view, Karin Radoy’s works develop infinite, always unique dialogues of colour and form in space. ||

  • ¹ Johannes Brümmer, Schicht für Schicht. Anmerkungen zu Karin Radoys künstlerischem Schaffen, in: Karin Radoy. Schicht für Schicht, exh. cat. Galerie Großkinsky&Brümmer, Karlsruhe 1997, p. 5.
  • ² Ibid., p. 7.
  • ³ Ibid., p. 5.
  • ⁴ Ibid.
  • ⁵ Birgit Sonna, Opalisierende Resonanzkörper der Malerei. Zu Karin Radoys Wandobjekten, in: Karin Radoy. Objekte und Arbeiten auf Papier, exh. cat. Villa Concordia, Bamberg [a.o.], ed. by the Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia, Bamberg 2002, p. 14.
  • ⁶ Wilhelm Warning, Polar, in: Karin Radoy. Polaire/Polar, ed. by galerie gimpel&müller, Paris 2010, p. 20.
  • ⁷ Brümmer (cf. note 1), also Sonna (cf. note 4), referred to the tradition of an all-over Abstract Expressionism and also to the tradition of the shaped canvas. Karin Radoy’s position, however, is also very consistently independent with regard to these roots – both in terms of purpose and implementation.
  • ⁸ Hans-Peter Riese, Harmonie der Gegensätze.
  • Zu den Arbeiten von Karin Radoy und Klaus Staudt, in: Vis-à-Vis. Karin Radoy Klaus Staudt, edited by Muzeum Ziemi Chełmskiej w Chełmie, Chełm 2013, p. 26.
  • ⁹ Ibid.
  • ¹⁰ Brümmer (cf. note 1), p. 10.
  • ¹¹ Ibid.

Juliane Rogge, born in 1989, studied classical archaeology and art history in Münster, Vienna and Rome and completed her master's degree in 2014 with a thesis on the reception of antiquity in the 15th century. She was an art educator at the LWL-Museum of Art and Cultural History and the Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso in Münster, among others, and managing director of the Kunstverein Arnsberg e.V. Since 2015 she has been living with her family in Soest and, as a freelance art historian, is primarily concerned with contemporary concrete art. She currently works for the Stiftung Konzeptuelle Kunst in Soest and the Carlernst Kürten-Stiftung in Unna, among others.