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  • Writer's pictureAmy Spitzer

What I Found on the WWW: Elga Sesemann

Recently, on Pinterest, I encountered Elga Sesemann’s self-portraits. But for the WWW, I probably would have not known her work. We are so lucky the advances in technology allow us to see many works of art that otherwise would be unknown to us.

Of course, I can’t be sure of an actual work’s appearance. For instance, her work is heavily textured as she applies thick slabs of paint with her palette knife, a tool with a thin, flexible blade ordinarily used to mix or apply paint. In person, I would feel an urge to touch the heavily textured paint, but on a screen, I experience the mounds and ridges of paint as shadows, lines and directional strokes. Nor can I be sure the colors are true to the original painting since it is difficult to represent colors truthfully in photographs shown on a screen. Much the same holds true for the impact of the painting’s size and the lighting of the environment in which it is shown. Despite these disadvantages, I think it is worthwhile to examine works appearing on the WWW.

In the works that I’ve seen that were produced during and right after World War II, the figures in Elga Sesemann’s portraits and self-portraits are isolated and withdrawn. The figures look inward. Many have one or both eyes closed or effaced; sometimes much of the face is obliterated. The artist uses slashing, heavily loaded strokes of paint in dark, shaded colors to carve her figures out of the shadowy, shallow spaces they occupy.

Are these individuals scarred and suffering loss and sadness? Hardly daring to view the horror they have experienced, they appear unable to hide or deny their experiences.

These works are gripping and charged with emotion that is contained in silence.

If you want to learn more and view more paintings by Elga Sesemann, visit https://www.elgasesemann.com/en/. If you wish, please let me know how you feel and what you think about her work. I look forward to hearing from you!

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