Foto by: Manfred Behrens
Text by Gerhard Charles Rump
art historian and theorist
As is well known, colour is not a property of things, but a function of our perception, whereby pictures with colour themes touch people very directly: His visual perception, his emotional attitude, his life experience. Mike and Madeleine Bülow’s paintings are unique in many respects. They are, due to the fluidity of the production process, not reproducible. Being once, never the same again. Their existence is a singular affair: born out of the direct interaction of motif and medium, they carry within them the romantic dualism of material and process, refusing limitations and demanding concentration on pictorial values. A strict, ascetic approach, however airy and playful the motif may then appear, unites with universal statements. For the viewer, the result is a thingness that seems to be located outside this world. In the act of seeing, nothing dissolves, it is like a romantic arabesque striving for infinity, of course in a contemporary form – no evocation of the past, only here, now and also maybe then…
In some of the more recent works, the play with perception is varied, because figurative associations arise under the chosen angle of vision: Appearance Gestalt perception… The recognition of what is known in seemingly disordered visual stimuli. Fascinating phenomena often emerge at the intersection of finitude and infinity: the paintings of Mike and Madeleine Bülow pretend to be describable, but are incomparable and set their own conditions of reflection of pictoriality through their uniqueness and material appeal.
Foto by: Manfred Behrens
Text by Gerhart Charles Rump
The artists Mike & Madeleine Bülow have chosen „The Symphonies of Colors ℠„ as their main title of their ongoing series of works. The colour body of her works is suspended in a liquid, and then photographed, and then selected, printed and presented. What the viewers see is, indeed, a symphony of colours, incorporating musical principles (other arists have done that, too, and composers have attempted to conjure up images in our minds), but the colours are not spread out on a flat and even surface, and they are seen as 3D, creating their own space, their own universe if you so wish.
The colour hues are different from what you experience in everyday life. Notwithstanding their unique character, they still do remind you of the things you know, you have seen before, and you are sure to see in the future. The reason for this is that Mike & Madeleine Bülow rely on certain principles of our perception, and of our biology, too. Every single colour, in whatever tone it may be clad, corresponds with the form, meaning that the same colour in a different form will have a different effect.
This is so because form is unchanging, it is a character of the material thing. Its colour, on the contrary, is not. Colour is an optical effect. An optical effect working directly on and with with our psyche and our experiences. This can easily be demonstrated by placing what in our everyday use would be called a red ball in a box and green late is shed on it, The colour, which in broad daylight appears to us as red, will change. But the form of the ball will, of course, not.
Some of the contrasts Mike & Madeleine Bülow will inevitably use are highly alerting. They do refer to biology, because some animals use those contrast like red and black or yellow and black or vivid bright colours, in order to fend off their predators. A frog in the Brazilian rain forest, brightly coloured, with vivid contrasts of colour in his skin, signalises to its predators: „I am poisonous, keep off.“ In the same way other animals use those contrasts to signalize „I do not taste good“ or „I am dangerous.“ We instinctively re-experience those effects, because we still have a heritage of those perceptive elements inside ourselves.
But there is, of course, more to it. Their main objective is to probe into the relationship between colour and form. Plus, of course, the effects these relations have on our perception, and therefore our emotions. When Josef Albers investigated the interrelationship of colour and form, he chose a defined area, on a flat surface, and chosen an abstract albeit geometrical form. Mike & Madeleine Bülow go about their business in a completely different way, Renouncing the flat surface and therefore elevating painting into the third dimension, one might say that their works are sculptures. But that is only true in the process of creation. The images of Mike & Madeleine Bülow are photographs, and therefore 2-D representations of 3-D objects, thus connecting to the tradition of representing space on a flat surface, which has been so admirably described in John White‘s book „The birth and rebirth of pictorial space“.
The gist of it all is that Mike & Madeleine Bülow create a universe of colours incorporating musical principles, biological principles, aiming at our psyche through the architecture of our perception. The range of our aesthetics is, in their works, constantly being widened and goes on to explore new dimensions.
Text by Josephine Taraschkewitz
Josephine Taraschkewitz studied art history at the Technische Universität Berlin,
the Freie Universität Berlin and the Pontificia Católica in Santiago de Chile.
Her curatorial practice focuses on the exhibition of contemporary photography,
painting and the performative arts. She works worldwide.
Mike and Madeleine Bülow’s artistic work is a photographic work, but the artistic production process consists of several steps. They photograph in-water sculptures that are created from drops of paint mixed by themselves in a liquid. The paint drops are added vertically into the water basin using a specific dripping technique, where they collect on the surface and only after a certain time slowly fall down into the water. Along with fire, air and earth, water is one of the basic elements without which life would not be possible. Water is the origin of all life. The molecule H2O consists of a compound of hydrogen and oxygen and is one of the smallest molecules on earth. Water has been widely studied, and yet it is still full of mysteries and surprises even for scientists. It has about 40 anomalies and it exists in three states of aggregation. For example, surface tension reveals an exciting phenomenon: the molecules are pulled inward, so that a kind of elastic skin stretches over the water. Gravity in a pool of water, like Mike and Madeleine Bülow’s, is generally lower because water is more viscous than air. Friction is greater and the effective gravitational acceleration less, even though this depends on the mass. The liquid in the pool of Mike and Madeleine Bülow is a kind of gel, thus somewhat thicker and more sluggish still than normal water, since a separate formulation and recipe is used for the liquid and the mixing of the colors. The mixing of the colors and the liquid are done in such a way that the colors within the pool of gel are heavy enough to fall down, so they are attracted by gravity. In the artistic process of Mike and Madeleine Bülow, water becomes the carrier and spatial material of the liquid and voluminous paint, so that the paint is no longer just a covering of a two-dimensional surface, as is known from classical painting. Instead, it becomes itself the physical and corporeal matter and protagonist of art. Threads, mushrooms, funnels and clouds of color emerge in the liquid, exist there for a short time and disappear again. According to Mike Bülow, certain patterns repeat themselves over and over again in the pool of water. Mini-landscapes and bizarre formations emerge, similar to the Hubble telescope’s images of outer space. Small sparks and splashes form, whirlpools, storms and cloud fronts. A temporary cosmos of its own is created. The formations Mike and Madeleine Bülow create are only roughly visible to the naked eye, and the color sculptures fade away, so that the photographic record captures a process that is ephemeral and imperceptible to the human eye. Water gives our planet its name. It is in an eternal cycle and its quantity on earth always remains the same. For millions of years, rivers have been transporting salts from the minerals in the earth’s crusts into the oceans. Only 3% of the total water resources are fresh water. But the world’s water resources are very unevenly distributed: 70% of our freshwater reserves are frozen in Antarctica, the largest freshwater reservoir on Earth. If these melt, we will have no more drinking water, so we should urgently do something to ensure that we will still have enough water in the future. Artists are like scientists, they show us the wonder of life, the world and the planet. They teach us not to stop wondering and to keep the wondering eyes of little children. And they search for the beautiful and the infinitely valid.
Foto by: Mike Bülow
Text by Mike Bülow
I want to do something that surprises myself!
Mike and Madeleine Bülow’s work, is a mixed media work, and consists of several working steps, which deals with the coincidence, flowing paint, and the laws of nature. In the process, intuitively explore the emerging small paint sculptures, in three-dimensional space, in a liquid. Important in their work is the perspective, and the view of the object that is created. Because each perspective, lets the subject, appear differently, for example, by light and shadow. The coincidence is thereby a fixed constant, to repeat nothing, to innovatively re-create, and compositions of colors and shapes emerge, which can not be conceived. They create a basic situation, by introducing color into a liquid. Later, their intervention is minimal and limited to a few drops of color that are intuitively brought into the action.
However, it is not, as in automatism, without intention. It is the intention and tasks position that determines the outcome of their work. This sharpens the senses to capture the emerging through artistic photography. Thus, for example, music of Claude Debussy, but also electronic music becomes the subject. But also visual events are used for research, examined and compared. Thus the photographs of the Hubble telescope serve, likewise for intuitive interpretation, their work. With the music it concerns to make sounds visually visible in form and color and to interpret. Their work is completely different from Kandinsky’s, which is on a two-dimensional plane. Mike and Madeleine’s work, in the process of creation, is just like sounds moving through space, a three-dimensional sculpture, of paint, also moving through space, and currently can only be made visible through photography or video. Since these objects are too fleeting and too small to be captured by the naked eye.
Our work is not just about beautiful colourful pictures. No, it is much more an exploration similar to the exploration of the universe, with the telescope, only that we create this universe that we explore ourselves! We act intuitively with what happens, what we see. The intentional coincidence is a fixed constant in our work, in order not to become predictable, and to give what happens its own evolution. In doing so, we uncover an otherwise invisible reality that would remain hidden to the human mind and eye. Our work involves several steps, based on the creation of a situation through paint in a liquid, to which we then have to react, change and accept. This situation is then photographed and printed as a unique fine art print. The exploration of space, in which paint unfolds freely, and only through slight intervention, in which we intuitively and consciously add new drops of paint to influence the situation, gives us the opportunity to create something, and to participate in creation. The question arises why space, form and colour, but also light and shadow work in certain constellations. It seems that nature has a template of forms for this. Since recognisable shapes emerge again and again.
Art is an activity that must be experimental and open!
Coincidence on purpose
How important is chance in art? I maintain that chance in art is one of the most important challenges of our time. Otherwise we will drown in repetitions! The art market is full of repetitions, in slightly different form and color. Innovations are those that are triggered by chance and are accompanied by an incredible creative force that we usually cannot grasp with our minds. Just as one can trust that a tree will grow from a seed, one must also trust that something new will emerge from an intention. The very intention to create something new is the seed that will grow through chance and exploration. Expecting a result clouds the view of what is actually in front of you! Also, the misconception of control must be set aside, because just the angle of view, can make an object seem changed. Something new, which was created by chance, must be recognized and viewed from all perspectives. It is important to look at it intuitively with the feeling and not with the mind.
An artist should be an explorer who finds the invisible!
Explanation coincidence and intention
One could describe it as follows. The intention contains the idea, which gets a body by the coincidence. The intention could be, for example, a theme of musical nature. However, since one has no template of what is to happen, one has to observe absolutely intuitively and free from the mind the things that happen in front of one. Then, when things happen to happen in front of you, there comes a moment of coincidence, like a puzzle piece that fits, like the right combination in a safe, where it clicks, and you intuitively know this is the right one. However, this is very difficult to describe because it is like walking down a path and seeing a person you resonate with, you could call it love at first sight and you don’t actually know why until the mind starts evaluating. However, the evaluation of the mind is counterproductive to creation and hinders innovative processes.
At a distance
It is the distance of the observer that makes something become many or a whole! With distance, everything is ultimately one!
A multiverse of possibilities.
The laws of nature are binding, but dependent on their environment. So by changing the environment, we can change the conditions for our work. For example, our work depends on gravity and temperature. In zero gravity, our work would probably be characterised by spherical shapes. On the moon, it would again be somewhat more influenced by gravity. Painting with oil on canvas would be possible in any kind of gravity and would proceed very similarly. That is why it is of great interest to us to explore the things that are still possible and to track down the possibilities of infinity. Because nothing would be worse than constant repetition.
Achieving a goal by several people can be a big challenge. It can mean a lot of planning and organisation. On the other hand, it can be very simple. Synergy is the energy that makes it possible to work with several people on one thing and achieve something. For example, the clearest connection to achieve a goal is between two people who fall in love and start a family. They create something together, like a cell that divides. One becomes two and eventually millions of cells become a whole. And each cell, in turn, consists of a thousand atoms. In the best case, cooperation makes a team out of many people. For this process it is important to displace the ego and to bring forth and use creativity. It is of utmost importance to take this to heart. Synergy is not only the energy that connects, but also the result that manifests in front of you! Creative work has always been about the goal of conveying a feeling, whether through a dance performance, paintings, photographs or plays. It is always about an intangible and indescribable feeling. Inevitable in this is the common goal. Cooperation will be the great challenge of the future, which is already beginning today.
Synergy an energy that can change our future.
In our works you can clearly see the colours that limit each other, but actually work together to create a picture, this „synergy effect“ describes the working together visually better than 1000 words.
Science in Art
Art is Science, the work of art is the manifestation of what has been researched. However, the research of a scientist without an artistic approach is different from that of an artist, because the end of research in art is an open process without intention and without wanting a result! There is only one question to ask. WHY?