Maria Zinfert


Le Bon Dieu est dans les détails.

Gustave Flaubert



Johannes Kepler made an unusual present to a friend and sponsor for New Year’s 1611 – snow. He did so, because he believed a gift for him would be all the better and more welcome, the closer it came to nothingness, because he loves nothingness; not because of its inferior value, but rather on account of the game that one can make of it. Kepler illustrated this almost nothingness through the case of snow, in hexagonal, feathery snowflakes, and he recorded the game that ensued from his observations of these crystals in his treatise Strena seu de Nive sexangula (On the Six-Cornered Snowflake). In this way Kepler continued the perceptions about nature that belonged to Aristotelian metaphysics; the process of becoming and fading away taking place in a movement that belongs to the nature of things, which is eternal, without beginning or end. In view of an eternity of becoming and fading away, the love of nothingness is directed towards the moments in-between; focusing on something that has not yet been and already will be no longer. The almost nothingness that Kepler made into a present for his friend bears the signature of transitoriness, as well as that of eternity. Kepler’s gesture can be read in the context of an aesthetics of the ephemeral, just as it was virulent in art of the Baroque period.


Glass orbs and bubbles, flowers, insects, water and dewdrops were ephemeral motifs in still-life and vanitas representations: mirrors of temporality and of nothingness. In the flirtation between Ms. Fashion and Mr. Death, time, ruled by Saturn, was manifest between appearance and disappearance. Into the early modern age, the ephemeral was principally marked by melancholy. A melancholy which produced heaviness, destruction and insanity or else the ease of light, fleeting appearances. The fleeting and transitory bring about transparency and lightness. However, the ephemeral first gains its new quality by overcoming melancholy. Conquering the heaviness of the spirit, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra danced over himself: Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under myself. Now there danceth a God in me. The accentuation of the ephemeral in art today means that one is free from the Western a priori of guilt and pain. The sanctification of laughter. A fall to a great height.


A positive current of the ephemeral flows through the art of the 20th century – from Kasimir Malevich to Yves Klein and Lucio Fontana. The painting of Thilo Heinzmann is found among its most recent lineage. The lightness and transparency of his images, which point towards the immaterial, ensues from the specific speed of his working method, as well as the materials he brings into use.


Amorphous, mostly inorganic, mineral, crystalline or part crystalline, translucent, luminescent and reflecting materials allow an immanent light to become visible in the effects of their surfaces. Light reflections vibrate in compositionally precise, balanced spaces in between, reflections of crystals on opaque surfaces, reflections of glass splinters and orbs. Spaces of light appear even within the smallest intervals: in the waterline or cloud-like moiré of the wood grains and textures of stone, in the multicolored sparkle and iridescence of seashells and feathers, and between the small, willowing hairs of shimmering fur. The painting of Thilo Heinzmann exists in the brightest light, a light which generates light in multiple refractions and reflections. Different than the technique of chiaroscuro, which allows light areas to emerge in contrast to the effects of darkness, in his paintings, Thilo Heinzmann brings a radiating source of light into existence from the light. The vibration of time becomes visible in this pulsating materiality. The moment between it is and it is no longer is captured in the light and freed at the same time.


Moreover, the lightness of Thilo Heinzmann’s paintings is achieved through a dynamization of the surface. The clearly calculated strokes on aluminum, which produce depressions, fissures and craters, explode over the edges. The view is released from its entrenchment, freed from the force of gravity and accelerated. This drift inscribed into the paintings is also a trace of Thilo Heinzmann’s painterly gesture, characterized by its speed. Like the flight of an arrow that cannot be headed off or slowed down once it is released from the bow and has begun its precisely precalculated course, his method of painting permits no retouching, no half measures and no obliterations. The prerequisite is a great certainty in the handling and the utmost precision in the working of the materials, as well as a rich knowledge about their properties, characteristics and interactions. An attentive eye is at work, but also a way of seeing, which is able to anticipate. The view of the painter is one under which chaos changes into a multilayered arrangement.


Maria Zinfert, May 2007

translated by Wendy Wallis