über die werke von Ruth Senn


Edited extract from the inaugural address for the exhibition entitled "Hey Heussler and Friends", Willi Christen Gallery, Zurich (Switzerland), May 2010



Ruth Senn has, over the years, reduced -- while at the same time intensifying -- the colour in her work. As the amount of pigment applied to each layer of paint has grown progressively smaller, she has made the multiple layering barely detectable, which has the effect of fortifying the perception of colour for the observer. The sensitivity of the eye to differences in light and colour is increased, and the process of minimisation paradoxically maximises the impression of the subtle relationships that exist between light and colour.


Her recent, playfully-created acryl-glass works likewise stick to this approach of using reduction to enrich the observer's perception.


This property depends on the specific tendency of the edges of polished acrylic glass to function as a prism, causing the colour effect to act on the wafer-thin layers of paint pigment that is applied to the vertical surfaces of the piece. These colour layers, in contrast, appear to separate completely in the light when viewed from the front; or they reduce the transparency to a milky, apparently-colourless layer.


Light colour and body colour, translucent and opaque, costly (acrylic glass) and simple (polystyrene)  are the pairs of opposites whose differences and tensions Ruth Senn uses to create, on the basis of consistent arrangements of these factors, objects that surprise -- and which are as equally ethereal and delicate as they are strictly structured.


The three-dimensional nature of these objects is important in this respect, as it is (in the best case) not just the act of moving around the object that allows its effect to be appreciated from all sides. These objects work particularly because they are translucent; almost completely transparent, in fact. They occupy a space lying in the path of the light traversing the room. But the light does not merely fall on the piece in the way that it would on a normal object; the eye is specifically drawn to the passage of light through the object, guided and transformed as it does so, by the type and number of (acrylic-glass) layers that it encounters. This in turn modulates the form of the object, as the light falling on it gives rise to the meandering and effect it creates.


Reduction and systematic classification provide Ruth Senn with ways to make fundamental, but subtle, optical phenomena visible in an almost magical manner. To the best of my knowledge, this aspect has not been taken up by any of the Zurich concrete artists. Fundamental similarities, albeit with important differences regarding their interest in colour and movement, can be detected only in the work of two Latin-American artists: Jesus Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez.


Regina Lange