Watercolours Painted on the Côte D' Azur

Catalogue Text by Prof. Hermann-Josef Kuhna, Düsseldorf 2010

During the years 2007 and 2009, Susanne Kamps moved into an atelier on the mountain slopes of the Cote d'Azur - with a view to the Mediterranean Sea.

Many oil paintings came into being in this atelier, in the most divergent formats. Besides, there are a considerable number of paper works, mainly watercolours.

These paper works can be viewed as a separate working category that came into being actually outside her atelier, namely on the terrace of the atelier., roughly 250 meters above sea level, and directly on the shore of the sea in Nice and Menton. The choice of technique fell to watercolour, deployed in a very particular way.

On the one hand, the structure of her painting is determined by the finest lines, serving in the depiction of, for example, palm tree trunks and leaves, sailboat masts and riggings, fences, roadside hedges, houses and recurring shapes of rich vegetation.

The basic structure of the pictures is filled in and glazed by bundles of colourful dots and lines; they form continuously varying rhythms. There is hence a painterly basic structure, escaping a graphic or woodcut likeness to the subject matter, however, as it mainly plays with the white surface of the watercolour paper, in a kind of plastering fashion. On the other hand, the watercolour paint in its original, dynamic form, of flowering and gushing expansion, is deployed mainly for example for parts of the sea, the clouds and remote mountain slopes.

Powerful, friendly colour contrasts ensure a positive basic mood of the paintings. The entire width of all shades of turquoise, blue and violet contrasts with the poignant ochre and earthen colours of the mountain slopes, of the parts of buildings, of awnings or lusciously blooming bushes. Delicate shades of purple nest in a soft pink environment, but all the more exciting, there is a pure cold or warm red here and there. The darkest fiery green dominates many treetops or cypresses, which seem to lead to an almost dramatic life of their own. Succulent shades of orange and yellow are detected in arcades, floor tiles or window architecture.

In the harbour paintings, the perception of the architectural idiocyncrasies plays a special role. Even the monotonous facades of apartment buildings lining the beach turn into colourful reflections of their environment or the sky. Precise observation allows for Susanne Kamps to subject even these, at first glanc seemingly monotonous buildings to a truly painterly treatment.

With the same friendly, painterly interest, the bizarre shapes of buildings in narrow alleys and courtyards are tackled. Here, a purely coincidentally hoisted French flag delights us just as much as an old-fashioned television antenna or a covered chimney. Paintings of courtyards are quoted just as appreciatively as an old gas lantern or laundry hanging on a balcony.

All in all the watercolours by Susanne Kamps confirm our most beautiful memories of the Cote d'Azur in a highly differentiating fashion; or if one is not familiar with this coast, the paintings make us long for such a faraway abode. Modern tourist targets are introduced to us an an Arcadia beyond time, which they may as well be, in my opinion.