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Baroness Waltraud von Schwarzbek and her echoes of the Sublime

Canyon River #1
Canyon River #1

In our post-modern and digital era of cultural pluralism with a seemingly global shift from being beautiful to being different, discovering a fine art gallery that features Old Masters feels like entering the realm of magic. But what magnifies this effect even more is the fact that the spectators are invited to observe not just the shadows of the past, but the paintings of a living master right now and right here.

Lydia Sudick, who specializes in Old Master European paintings, selected for her gallery’s inaugural exhibition a contemporary painter, Baroness Waltraud von Schwarzbek, discovering in her prolific body of artwork a magnificent synergy of various epochs, classic trends and styles. The art show will be available throughout the summer at Lydia Sudick’s Fine Art Gallery in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Baroness Waltraud von Schwarzbek, a German-born American artist, has been featured extensively in the United States and Europe. She inherited her noble title from her late husband, but as far as her exceptional artistic talent and accomplishments go, Baroness owes it all to her dedication, high standards for art and rich European heritage. Born into a family of artists, Waltraud von Schwarzbek graduated from the National Academy of Art in Munich. She worked for years as an illustrator for Columbia Pictures, United Artists, and Warner Brothers. An ardent defender of animals across the globe, she supported Wild Life Funds by donating copyrights of her paintings of endangered species. Lydia’s retrospective of Schwarzbek's works reflects the major milestones of the artist’s evolution.

“In my gallery”, Lydia explained, unveiling gracefully her profound connoisseurship of European art, “the living and old masters reflect each other. Baroness Waltraud von Schwarzbek rekindles their spirit". And, indeed, Von Schwarzbek's compositions glow like candles in Lydia Sudick's Fine Art elegant gallery in a company of Luca Giordano’s masterpiece of around 1750, “Allegory of Fame”.

Von Schwarzbek’s spectacular paintings reflect a wide array of painterly styles, executed with equal craftsmanship and originality. Compared by art critics with the Dutch painter, Yan van Huysum (1682-1749) and other iconic figures of that era for astounding virtuosity in rendering floral still life, Baroness developed her own pictorial technique, working in oil on wood art panels. “It takes few months to create a composition like this”, she pointed to her centerpiece,“Nature’s Wonder”, surrounded by equally remarkable still life works.

Compared to her Dutch predecessors, Waltraud’s floral arrangements appear to be more fluid and alive. Their feminine rhythmic cadence shifts the observer’s perception from floral opulence to overflowing energy and music. “As an artist, I always avoided shortcuts. The art of painting is all about craftsmanship and discipline”, she said, being a personification of classic elegance and sparkling magnetic personality. “And it’s also about harmony and beauty”, she continued with a charming smile. “I’d rather see a cubist painting in the museum than on my walls as it’s too hard on mind”. Criticized every now and then for adhering to conventional and realistic methods and staying somewhat unresponsive to the cornucopia of emerging conduits in the post-modern era, her critics miss one crucial point. By mastering the Dutch realistic and highly elaborate technique, the artist perpetuates not only the art of floral painting itself but the classic mode in executing the still life genre in general. Likewise, her mesmerizing landscapes, canyons, wildlife scenes and dazzling variations of Monet’s ponds and lilies, open a new dimension in impressionism, expanding its poetic vibrations and unfading lyricism.

Working currently with a palette knife in a very unique manner, Baroness uses its every aspect and angle that allows to reveal the very pulse and veins of impressionism. She sculpts expressive and vibrant textures of high key thriving colors, imbued with the dancing floating light. But if we look deeper the surface of Waltraud’s landscapes, we can definitely sense a romantic tonality, palpitating underneath and evoking Immanuel Kant’s aesthetics of the Sublime – the notions that sparked the whole movement of European romanticism and became a prequel of impressionism. At the same time, her painting, “Autumn Gold #2”, is reminiscent of Turner’s translucent compositions. Pervaded with mysterious interplay of shade and light, the whole piece embodies a bewitching fusion of impressionist spontaneity and romantic dreamlike color schemes, moods and tones. Likewise, the way Baroness merges Heaven and Earth, accentuating Gothic outlines in their vertical downhill-uphill flow, reflects her one-of-a-kind signature in contributing new visions and traits to impressionism whose fragrance can never be archived. “Sky sets the mood of my landscape, determines its palette and soul”, she asserted.

Baroness Waltraud Von Schwarzbek’s visual discourse not only restarts the spirit of the old masters but summons to unearth the boundless dormant mines and immense potential of classic art itself with its iceberg of the Sublime – the very attribute that makes it timeless.

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