Gisela Happe



In the beginning, the figure was central to my creative work. As such I was focusing on the human figure and its relation to space, as well as the figure as a volume in a room. Therefore, colouration has a central meaning since “the figure has to evolve out of colouration, she is in a dialogue with me and her surrounding space and room, she is a medium of energy” (noted in 1983).

My painting is characterised by the process of invention and composition as well as the use of laminations. Also figurative collages evolve through this process on different papers. They are a continuation of my research topic TRANPARENCY and OPACITY with dissimilar means. During this research, the diaphanous special-paper PERGAMYN (glassine) appeared most appropriate to me, due to its ability to merge colours through layering, which leads to diverse and new variations within this topic.

In 1987, I discovered that transparent acrylic glass is actually ideal for my work, since it is an invisible picture carrier. Through this effect the figure detaches itself from the ground - that gave me the impulse to free the figure from its two-dimensionality: I hung up live-sized figures, painted on transparent glass, free-hanging, from the sealing in the room. Thus, overlapping of form and paint were transferred into the third-dimensionality. Moreover, they did now interact with the observer. The figure entered the room and became part of a „walkable” Painting-Room-Installation.


After having studied various sceneries through taking photos during the 1990s, I began to paint so-called Landstreifen (streaks of land). Those express the perception of nature in the field of visions of the observer, who is actually moving in this scenery. This Idea, to make overlappings and layerins visible that are constantly transforming, was best to realise on transparent acrylic glass. After further research on depth of space as well as the classification system of fore-, middle-, and background, I designed variable scenery-elements of painted and imprinted glass panels, the so-called Land-Stücke (land-pieces). Those, I arranged one after another and fixed them on the wall. After that, I began to exclusively work with this method of using photos of sceneries I made during travelling in the Pyrenees (France) or the northern German upland moor.

My current work deals with the transfer of encountered structures in micro- and macrocosms in nature as well as with transparency and opacity. In this project, not only the picture carrier is transparent, but also the colouration, which is glazing spread, shines through and merges in every layer. Although this processual work is guided, unforeseen outcomes are welcome. Additionally to that, light is of extraordinarily importance in my work, which is caught and refracted by the glass panel, that leads to an iridescent effect and even intensifies the colouration. The reflexion of the white wall, caused by the distance between the hanging work on a glass panel and the wall, merges also in the painting. This is why, in my point of view, acrylic glass, as material for a carrier, is with no competition in this theme circle, since it allows a very differentiated, unique technique of glazing. Furthermore, it accords the colour-nuances in nature, but also allows colouration to achieve a luminance, which would never be possible on usual canvas. 

In this new phase of my work, I am combining painting with photography. For that, photographs do not merely serve as drafts any more but become equal partners of the paintings. Since both, painting and photography, are manifestating behind the acrylic glass as support material, they are merging in a special way content-wise as well as formally to a strong corresponding unity. As such these works form a new inter-medial group of works in my artistry.

Gisela Happe