An exemplary feature of Rolf Tschierschky’s work is how he simultaneously absorbed all the trends of his century and expressed them artistically. He has acknowledged some artists who were role models and inspiration for his own work, including Max Beckmann in the 1950’s, and later Paul Cézanne. However in reality, it is possible to discover numerous “intellectual and creative” fathers in Tschierschky’s own creations. His pieces are comparable to a prism refracting across all the artistic streams, styles and techniques of the 20th century before fusing into a new artistic entity. He has rarely, though, consciously reflected on this process, as for him, his own imagination was always his most important source of inspiration. As Tschierschky put it, the images and ideas for his works seemed to appear to him unbidden – as if indeed, they had wills of their own. According to him, these “visitations” happened especially at night, when in the darkness, they would arise from the depths of his unconscious. All similarities with the works of his contemporaries were secondary, as Tschierschky’s aim was to free himself from the inner pictures, and not lay claim to having an “own style”. There were times when he worked at breathtaking speed and would fast-track multiple paintings per day, slapping paint in thick layers down upon canvas or a piece of paper and then smearing the colours with a painter’s spatula.
Variety of media
His painting techniques, materials, subjects and formats are incredibly diverse. Rolf Tschierschky painted with 37 different media that range over acrylic, watercolours, lead pencil, wax crayon, charcoal, gold bronze and printing ink. Not even shoe polish as a creative media could daunt him. Tschierschky dabbed, smeared, spread, and even flung paint on hardboard, carton, chipboard, plus photo, normal, coated, glossy, and transparent paper types, beer coasters, foils, Japanese and copperplate printing paper, canvas, grid foil, silk, newspaper, and film stock.
Tschierschky painted a total of 51 portraits and almost every single one of them features a different technique. Whether he chose oil paints, tachisme, collage or pencil, these works demonstrate and highlight the entire palette of his artisanship and ingenuity. He implemented technique and style as characterizing aides in order to depict the subject’s personality. In this way, each portrait tells its own unique story. Portrait viewers can connect and understand its tale even if they do not know the person being portrayed in the painted story.
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Set and Scenery Designs
Rolf Tschierschky’s work as a set designer occurred mainly in the six years between 1954 and 1960. During this time, he was employed at state-supported theatres in Kassel, Hamburg, Braunschweig and Offenburg. All in all, he produced 158 set designs and 70 costume sketches for about 30 productions.
Right after completing his studies, Tschierschky was offered his first position at the Staatstheater Kassel. This is the same public theatre which had sponsored the set design competition Tschierschky had just won. Between 1954 and 1956, he participated in 14 productions there in contemporary plays, such as"Eurydike"by Jean Anouilh, and classics like Mozart’s"The Magic Flute"“.
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Rolf Tschierschky created the majority of his artistic works that feature the city of Frankfurt as their motif after his return from war captivity in 1947. Many of these paintings awaken impressions of a still intact city, such as his 1952 aquarelle Mainansicht (View to the Main River). He does not depict the outer reality of a city severely damaged by war, but rather its essence, which is comparable to the artist’s own soul. Although Tschierschky’s had been tormented by his wartime experiences, his inner core remained whole and grounded in his heartfelt Christian beliefs.
The "Blick aus dem Fenster" (View from the window)
Using a style that calls Beckmann to mind, Tschierschky presents in this painting a fictional compilation of various panoramas of Frankfurt and thus, condenses his memories of the city of his birth.
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Rolf Tschierschky was extremely adept at depicting light and colours that were enchantingly transparent. This particular ability of his allows viewers of his landscapes to soak in the light-flooded and vibrant atmosphere. In this manner, his quickly created sketch of the Akropolis in Athen uses the simplest means to portray the typical light of the Mediterranean: Empty space and dark surfaces convey the glaring sunlight and harsh shadows.
Just as in all of Rolf Tschierschky’s works, his landscapes cover the entire spectrum between fiction and reality, subjective sensitivities and exact photo-optical replication. These works demonstrate a fluent shift to the more fantastical subject.
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“Independent paintings” is a good description for these works which comprise the largest single element in Rolf Tschierschky’s body of work and form the core of his artistic expression. This is why here – and in the book – they receive the broadest presentation.
In order to help make this extensive gallery of fantastical works more user-friendly, the paintings are grouped here according to the decade of their creation.
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Objects and Installations
Although objects do represent the smallest group of pieces in Rolf Tschierschky’s entire range of artistic production, one could also say that he nevertheless invested the greatest amount of energy in these creations. It was not until the end of the 1980s as he was beginning his eighth decade of life that he began to design larger, three-dimensional objects. It almost seems as if he had explored the 2D world of lines and surfaces sufficiently and something was compelling him towards the realm of the tangible and overwhelming.
Once an idea had taken hold of him, he would often spend several years working it out and elaborating it. He sketched studies, made models, wrote reams of explanations and funding applications in order to acquire the means to realize these visions. That the chances of receiving financial backing were very slight did not concern him very much. He also was not worried that most of this work had not been commissioned.
Although to date not one of the designs has yet to be realized, these objects are fully-fledged and developed works of art just the way they are, as drafts and designs also have their own intrinsic artistic and technical value. All projects are realizable and topically relevant today. They not only illustrate Rolf Tschierschky’s art, but also his political, spiritual and emotional dimensions.
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Die Abbildung unbelebter Gegenstände hat Rolf Tschierschky nie sonderlich interessiert. Lediglich ein einziges Bild war für ihn zentraler Bedeutung, und er hat es bei zahllosen Gelegenheiten erläutert: Das 1951 entstandene „Stillleben mit Krug (Still life with a jug)he symbolically represented his family in the form of a jug and a plate with two pieces of fruit atop it. The jug represents the mother, which Carl Gustav Jung had already denoted as being an archetypical symbol for the maternal and feminine.
The two pieces of fruit – a pear and an apple – embody Rolf Tschierschky’s siblings. The apple represents his sister Rosemarie, while the pear denotes his brother, Günter. His youngest brother, Fredi, is not represented, as he had fallen during the war. Rolf himself appears in the form of the plate. As the fruits’ container, it symbolizes the responsibility he had of keeping the family together after the death of his father.
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Advertising, Technology, Billboards and Posters
One of Rolf Tschierschky’s most challenging tasks was to draw graduations on measuring instruments by hand. This precision work in tenths of millimetres required a keen eye and a very steady hand. In our digital age, this is barely imaginable. Back then, though, Tschierschky made a game out of creating pictures in the tiniest of formats. The drawing no. 646"Arbeitsplatz bei Hartmann & Braun" (Workplace at Hartmann & Braun)measures a mere 5.5 square centimetres!
In 1960, he joined the company of Fritz Borsi in Offenburg, which specialized in outdoor advertising. While employed there, Tschierschky created advertising media and photorealistic depictions of a wide variety of products. Furthermore, throughout his life as an artist, he crafted among many other things, campaign posters, advertising signs, stickers and album covers.
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Throughout his life, Rolf Tschierschky has engaged intensively with the metaphysical. He deeply examined and explored events and people from the Bible. From its New Testament, he focussed above all on the Passion of Christ and the letters from the Apostle Paul. Personally, he found comfort and support in the words of Jesus and Paul’s interpretation of them.
It cannot be denied that that Tschierschky also had a bit of the missionary in him. Every now and then, he hinted at how he viewed himself in the role of a spiritual teacher who spoke to people through his art and explained to them the processes going on in their unconscious minds.
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