Maria Katharina Rauchenberger is a multifaceted artist of Central European origins who began her artistic career by measuring herself with photography, design, fashion, the study of singing and the piano.

Maria Katharina Rauchenberger is a multifaceted artist of Central European origins who began her artistic career by measuring herself with photography, design, fashion, the study of singing and the piano.

After an initial approach to analogue photography, Rauchenberger feels the need to create a new language, capable of reflecting her poetic and aesthetic vision of the surrounding reality. Thus she moves away from traditional techniques to approach ‘New Media Art’, a term that includes the various artistic practices united by the use of recent technologies.

Exploring the expressive possibilities of digital tools and contemporary media, Maria Katharina Rauchenberger creates photographs, videos, performances and audiovisual installations. In particular, she is interested in digital art by creating works and artistic projects that can be used both in presence and directly from smartphones, tablets and computers, up to approaching cryptoart by creating some series of unpublished works that are published on a blockchain in the form of NFT (‘ non fungible tokens’).

The stylistic code that characterizes all Rauchenberger’s works is the digital alteration of the image and sound. Through solarization – a technique that consists in the inversion or tonal change of an image -, the superimposition of colored filters and the use of sounds, the artist creates a new expressive code that gives life to a surprising vision of the world. Her works are characterized by the richness of intense and unusual color contrasts, and by the attention to detail often highlighted from unexpected points of view.

Rauchenberger’s intervention does not intend to alter the vision of reality, but to highlight the beauty of what surrounds us by representing it from an unprecedented perspective capable of involving the viewer within a suggestive landscape. Thus, her works move from being an object of contemplation to an experience in which one can get lost.

Examples are ‘Wunderweg’, a digital map of Florence available on the artist’s website which presents the works of Rauchenberger involving the visitor on a cognitive, perceptive and emotional level, and ‘Wunderfilter’, a project that sees the application of Rauchenberger’s poetics and artistic language to Instagram with the creation of a personalized filter that arises from her works.

Modern devices and social media become new canvases on which art takes shape to be admired and shared by users outside the usual contexts at any time.

Focused on the perception of the surrounding reality and on a continuous search for what arouses amazement and enchantment, Rauchenberger’s poetics exalts the wonder of the world. In fact, it is precisely from the concept of wonder – ‘Wunder’ in German – that her works come to life, including the aforementioned ‘Wunderweg’ (‘path of wonders’) and ‘Wunderfilter’ (‘filter of wonders’).

In particular, the artist investigates the majesty of ancient sculptures and the natural world. In Rauchenberger’s work, two main corpus can be identified, ‘Artificialia’ and ‘Naturalia’, within which several series of works coexist.

‘Artificialia’ collects numerous photographs and videos that are inspired by the great masters of the past such as Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna, just to name a few.

Rauchenberger offers a contemporary reading of the sculptures of these prominent artists by transforming mythological tales into current narratives. The protagonists of her works are not the gods and their heroic deeds, but the intimate gestures, the motions of the soul, the beauty and sensuality of their bodies. The drama of the scenes represented, often centered on tragic and violent events such as killings and kidnappings, is highlighted through chromatic contrasts and unusual points of view.

 

‘Naturalia’ includes some series of photographs and videos, such as ‘Seascapes’ and ‘Flowers’, focusing on the prosperity and beauty of nature. Natural landscapes are transformed into surreal and magnetic scenarios where the material is transformed by dissolving the boundaries between the elements.

Both in ‘Artificialia’ and in ‘Naturalia’, as in all Rauchenberger’s works, there is a profound link between art and music: in the photographs the movements and gestures of the sculptural bodies, as well as the metamorphoses of the natural world, follow a visual rhythm that takes shape through the lines, shapes and colors of the composition; in videos and installations the images are often accompanied by recorded sounds or by unpublished reinterpretations of classical music pieces sung by the artist.

The relationship between color and music is even closer: for the artist, colors are like notes that follow one another in a harmonious flow and the line is the graphic element that creates a ‘visual pause’, an interval between chromatic contrasts of the represented figures. Just as a composer writes a score, Rauchenberger chooses the colors from time to time to create harmony between the different parts.

Escaping conventional artistic categorizations and traditional languages, Rauchenberger creates synaesthetic works that appear as ‘visual orchestras’ rich in emotional intensity and capable of amplifying the perception of what surrounds us.

The artist draws on visual and auditory sensations combining images characterized by strong color contrasts with sounds to arouse certain sensations and impressions.

The perceptive capacity, the sensitivity and the imagination of the viewer are thus stimulated within the imaginative world of Rauchenberger through correspondences which, in Baudelairian terms, allow us to go beyond the reality we see by meeting the profound mystery of the wonder of ‘existence.

The choice of the visual and sound component in her works is therefore not entirely random, but is determined by the artist’s aesthetic taste and the search for a harmonious dialogue between sounds and colors capable of emphasizing certain emotions. Moving in the wake of great artists and illustrious personalities of the past who conducted color studies, such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Vasilij Kandinskij, Maria Katharina Rauchenberger reinterprets the relationship between color, music and emotions.

In 1810 in “The theory of Colors” Goethe stated that it was not the light that came from the colors as previously stated by Isaac Newton, but the opposite; colors consist in a dimming of light, or in its interaction with darkness. So Goethe created a new color circle consisting of primary colors and their complementaries, and demonstrated the psychological impact of different colors on emotions and mood. Later in his studies on the use of colors Kandinsky established a link between the work of art and the spiritual dimension and provided precise indications on his theories about the properties of each color tone. Through the colors he investigated the response of the soul and the sensations they aroused, in particular he created a ‘musical map’ within which each primary and secondary color corresponds to a specific sound and a specific emotional and psychic response. Furthermore, for Kandinsky also the form and its orientation on the pictorial surface play a decisive role in the composition and are inseparable from color, since they enhance its effects and emotions.

If on the one hand Rauchenberger takes inspiration from Goethe’s studies on the relationship between color and emotion and from those of Kandinsky on the link between music, color and soul, on the other she frees herself from pre-established rational schemes to explore the various chromatic combinations in response to both to external aesthetic needs, than to internal needs.

Maria Katharina Rauchenberger’s creative process is ‘naive’, spontaneous and disruptive. The artist is not limited to the use of primary and secondary colors, but experiments with different color combinations using strong, sometimes acid and fluorescent colors, in contrast to each other to create an unusual, lively and surprising vision of reality. The free and bold application of color in her works, which recalls the explosiveness and chromatic freedom of Fauvism, follows changing and unexpected visual rhythms that change from time to time, triggering different perceptual stimuli and different emotional responses.

By escaping the level of logical communication and acting at deeper levels, her works convey a positive vision of the world and evoke unexpected connections capable of soliciting the gaze and vibrating the strings of the viewer’s soul. And it is precisely through a sudden sense of wonder that the artist invites us to give up a rational vision of the world to abandon ourselves to a new perception of the surrounding reality.

Alessia Simonetti, Curator