Sonja Kalb by Timothy Warrington

sonja kalb timothy warrington critique critic art artist paintingSonja Kalb’s entrancing opuses have the relentless capability to offer the viewer the illusion of utter transportation to realms of mysterious oceanic depths or ethereal journeys traversing a cosmos of thought and expression. Kalb’s abstract creations truly reflect her sincere affinity with the natural world, through which she shares an erudite understanding of the environment that she presents with resounding aplomb. Indeed, this phenomenal artist was awarded the accolade of ‘Best Abstract Artwork’ at the Chianciano Biennale hosted at the Chianciano Art Museum, yet it is clear that Kalb’s academic understanding of her medium profoundly investigates an abundance of historical references that contribute to an overwhelming sophistication visible in each artistic conception. The monumental dimensions of much of the work combined with exquisite execution and sense of timeless mastery confirms Kalb is a considerable 21st century talent.
Kalb’s intriguing artistic journey highlights her astute consciousness of art history, which can be detected in her assertive use of medium. In her early career, Kalb indulged in more classical tendencies that led her through a meandering path of figurative drawing and painting, collages, and later to large abstracted works of art, as many artistic masters of the 20th and 21st century such as Pablo Picasso have done. Kalb’s creative and intellectual homogeny with Picasso can also be noted when observing their cardinal penchant for reducing complex forms to their surface and basic elements with exuberant emotion and flair. This extensive artistic exploration shines through every brushstroke, each of which demonstrate her irrefutable expertise and appetence.
The graceful representations of subtle light and gentle movement within the biosphere of Kalb’s artistic identity evince the artist’s astounding ability to cast an authentic touch of light across her stunning compositions. Certainly, it is this luminescence that Kalb achieves throughout her collection that vehemently connects the viewer so unreservedly to each piece; Kalb coalesces nature’s pure, unabated beauty and her innovative Abstract Expressionist approach with an eloquent ease thus gifting each individual viewer with their own personal landscape that possesses an understanding of the harmonious balance in which the limitless diversities of the natural forces coexist within. This distinctive aspect of Kalb’s method is breathtakingly apparent in ‘Twilight’, in which the intrinsic sensorial experience of the transience is immortalised as the eye traverses the canvas and the spectator is inclined to escape the present day as they are radically enthralled and consumed by the dexterous complexities of the artist’s approach to her medium. In this respect, cerebral connections can be detected between the philosophical proclivities of Kalb and Gerhard Richter, particularly when considering the avant-garde application of paint and the impassioned gesture that can be found in the oeuvre of each artist.
Perfervid tones saturate Kalb’s canvas; her intense hues suggest a visual curiosity towards the Fauvists, which is visible in her symbolic and evocative use of intense colour that provokes an intuitive and primordial response from the viewer. The infatuating textures and hues found in each of Kalb’s pieces also reflect the artist’s mirrored cognitive approach to the Expressionists - particularly when considering ‘Cosmos’ - as the infatuating enigmas of the galaxy are heralded with bold presence and simultaneous delicate nuance.
Kalb’s poignant and emotive works reflect a distinct influence from the German Expressionist group Die Brücke, particularly when considering Emil Nolde who shares Kalb’s insatiable predilection for an emblematic use of oil to create an inherent aura of Mother Nature’s glorious creations. ‘Lake’ remarkably reveals a trove containing the vivacious mysteries of life swimming below the surface of the water through an elegant translation of her fundamental outlook. In this instance, Kalb’s abstracted forms contain a tender attitude, as seen in Per Kirkeby’s depictions of nature, and enable viewers to envisage their own interpretation of the landscape evoked.
When observing ‘Rainforest’ and ‘Amazonas’, it is possible to detect conceptual ideals that align with the Tachisme movement, particularly when considering the intrepid application of medium that Kalb ventures upon. Further comparisons can be made with Arshile Gorky and Karel Appel through their aligned implementation of line and colour that harbours cardinal and inexpugnable emotion; a captivating curiosity is provoked in the viewer, who is beguiled by the composition and inspired to wander through the densely populated jungle portrayed in order to uncover the hidden narratives within its terrain.
Kalb’s academic approach towards her creativity is reflected in the masterful manipulation of her materials that seem to layer hues, thereby chronicling the journey of the artist’s synergy with her work. The textures created at times even correlate with the philosophies of the Dada movement; each subsequent stratum at once masks and reveals an integral aspect of the narrative contained within the artwork. This mesmerising technique is exemplified in ‘Blue Mountains’, where each layer unveils an element of rich history and thereupon develops a fervent intrigue in the viewer.
Kalb’s astonishing ability to skilfully conceive significantly large and museum-worthy compositions with such graceful impact firmly demonstrates her supreme creative talent. The artist’s ebullient personality radiates through every subtle motion in her oeuvre and conveys her connate perspective to the viewer with exquisite serenity and eloquence.