Uta Schotten 1972 born in Haarlem


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1998 Special appointment as
Professor Anzingers Master Student
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

Jörg Immendorff
Steven McKenna
Siegfried Anzinger

Joseph Beuys
Agnes Martin

Städelschule Frankfurt Main
HBK Braunschweig
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
1999 Final Exam, Diploma,

Akademiebrief der
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

National and international
exhibitions since 1990

Works of Uta Schotten
are in private collections
and public


My kingdom is not of this world

To order

Dr. Dr. Thomas Rusche
Kerber Verlag
Artists (selection)
Christian Achenbach, Tilo Baumgärtel, Heiner Binding, Norbert Bisky, Martin Eder, Leiko Ikemura, Jonathan Meese, Justine Otto, Moritz Schleime, Uta Schotten, Uwe & Gert Tobias

Schafft Land, Stadtmuseum Siegburg
Luc Tuymans, Uta Schotten, Thomas Kohl, Bert de Beul, Ulrich Brauchle, Andreas Gursky, Peter Doig, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Leon Kleinbaum

Wunderland, WGZ Bank Düsseldorf
Benjamin Bohnsack, Jenny Gonsior, Andrea Lehnert, Rosilene Luduvico, Takeshi Makishima, Uta Schotten, Tom Wagner


2003-2005 have worked as sculptor
in Professor Tony Craggs Studio


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  • About Uta Schotten´s paintings Open or Close

    About Uta Schotten's Paintings

    It has always been the artist's privilege to re-define and name objects and relationships.
    Their approach is not that of a scientist. A biologist, for example, names something in order to classify that thing. Artists do the opposite, they strip away and liberate their object of interest from its  previous associations. The artist's way of naming is no simple nomenclature. It is a kind of re-adjustment. When the painter, Uta Schotten, pursues this path she does it in a way which perhaps goes farther than other artists. She removes the layers of coerced usefulness and exposes her subject to such an extent that the subject names itself.

    On closer inspection of her pictures you cannot help noticing that many of her works appear to backward-looking in terms of time and thematically. Old buildings, cartwheels, people, who seem to come forth from faded photographs. The observer must first come to terms with this. Another momentum comes into play after the first impression – the momentum of timelessness.
    Asked whether she could imagine the girl in the picture 'Jumping girl' from 2014 wearing a trekking jacket instead of old-fashioned clothing, the artist replies firmly in the negative.

    Things past become bearers of meaning in Uta Schotten's visual world. She does not paint motorboats, she paints arks. She does not paint bungalows, she paints timbered houses. They are, however, close to us and of relevance to us. This is what accounts for the secret of her paintings. This and that her paintings correspond to a way of painting which is very now.

    It is not easy to be confronted with this double-edged experience but it is what accounts for the allure of  Schotten's works. On top of all that you will even find the odd playing field there. A playing field?
    The moment of timelessness, which comes about with many of Schotten's works is worthy of special attention. Timelessness! What a word! And how often used in the context of works of art. But still.
    The painting technique is, often after diverse repainting, sure and swift and the accuracy of the actual lines of a roof edge is encountered by the artist with her very own exactness. An exactness which does not require any graphic aids. I find Schotten's paintings exceedingly exact.

    One may assume that this kind of swift painting suggests something more like change or perhaps the stopping of time, comparable to a photographic snapshot, and not so much timelessness.
    The previously mentioned picture, 'Jumping girl', is inspired by such of a snapshot. Photographers speaking of 'freezing movements' when a shutter speed is selected which is so brief, that the objects are without motion blur. Schotten's painting is anything but frozen motion, although it is a painted 're-production' of a photo. A seam of her works becomes visible here and it becomes obvious why a photograph which is not of now is necessary.

    As for the painting technique, the playing field corresponds to the timbered house. The artist could, in fact, turn her attention to our contemporary surroundings and our contemporary objects.
    She has created an elaborate style which at times comes off as one of Old Master virtuosity when looked at in terms of her approach to the subject. This style and its special approach to oil colours seem at the same time to break with these aesthetics. The medium to strongly absorbent chalk base used by the artist robs the colours of the oil and allows them to stay drily on the canvas. The in oil painting much desired gloss effect, an effect which can go all the way to greasiness, is avoided in this way.

    The addition of wax to the painting substance, the seldom used method of enkaustik gives a fine and tender fragility to the surface of the painting. It acts as a contrast to the indestructibility of the oil colours and gives it a warm, dull – waxy – gloss. The 'soft dryness' of the paintings is often reminiscent of the colour surface of a fresco, which speaks to us in its directness.
    In an earlier phase of creativity the artist dealt specially with plastered painting surfaces. Uta Schotten's paintings are unimaginable without her intensive examination of working materials.
    She states, 'I do not like reflective surfaces, anyway. Basically, also not glass.'

    This elaborate approach to the painting surface and to colour provides us with a hint about her choice of topic. The transportable picture, made possible and perfected in particular by the invention of oil painting, is not, I believe Uta Schotten's thing. One senses that she would most like to mould her concept of timelessness in her paintings by allowing them to remain in one place.  Something almost unthinkable given how exhibitions currently operate and very much contrary to our exceedingly mobile lives.

    A hypersensitive attention to the painting surface is her reaction to the heartlessness of quickly changing pictures which cannot establish themselves anywhere. In the case of painting, works are sent all over the world and otherwise streamed ad nauseam. Part of the tragedy which comes about through the modern homelessness of art is experienced through the actual artistic craftsmanship. How wonderful it would be if pictures again had a place to rest!

    Just as Schotten does without any superficial gloss, any Trompe-l'oeil, to prove that her subject does actually exist in the real world, she also does without any temporal fixation of things, people and surroundings in the now. What would be the purpose? She is not interested in the current state of appearance of things but rather the layer beneath. A layer in which the paintings find roots and which is not a counterpart  of  visible daily occurrences but rather also a counterpart of a dreams, the night and the slumbering primal pictures. She states, 'matte creates an opening for the observer, in particular, on dark surfaces.'

    When a man drives a motorboat, he is also on aak. A very current and specific aak. Even if the rattling motor does not lend itself to dreaming. The form makes it possible for him perhaps to forget that he is moving in deep water. Perhaps he is afraid to see this aspect of reality. Perhaps he is afraid to grasp that the depths of the ocean are communicating with the depths of his unconsciousness and a boat always represents crossing over and the soul's journey.
    In an ideal world boots would look like those in Uta Schotten's painting.

    Not only does the artist use a special concept of the colour substance and its application, she also uses her own colour concept in order to reach the line between reality and dreams and to create paintings from this area. She paints a gray which dominates the paintings and from this gray which she then scratches from the canvas and collects in a jar for later use the rest of her colours come about.
    It is a kind of birth colour which enables the other colours to come into existence.

    By doing so she makes a piece of reality more accessible. A piece of reality confirmed by colour printing, though not allowed for by the colour theory.
    In the world of printing colours, mixing the primary colour cyan, magenta and yellow results in a dirty gray and not black, as required by the colour theory. For this reason the colour space for printers familiar to us from Photoshop is called, CMYK. The K stands for Key, a black colour, that must be added to the mix in order to create a real black. That all colours come from gray is actually true and not just in an intellectual/academic sense. All colours flow together to become gray in printing.

    Schotten's colour concept is a secret, which very much demonstrates to what extent the terms colourful and in colour differ. Actually, we are only familiar with colourful paintings. Like an alchemist the artist returns to us what has been stolen by advertising posters and the glare of monitors. She takes on the the widespread concept of gray as a synonym for dull with such a verve that when bright colours do make an appearance in her paintings – in the painting 'House with a blue roof' 2013 – we feel like we have seen a blue for the first time that can satiate us. In this way her colours touch us more in our emotional depths than visually. A depth which the artist herself mentions repeatedly.

    Should one endeavour to combine the different aspects of her painting in terms of what we think and feel, it becomes obvious why her paintings touch us. Her paintings touch us because they appear to be backward-looking but all the while this backward glance is actually a screen for introspection, for looking inward. The painter looks inward so openly that her experience touches the border where the worlds of day and night meet. Her paintings are painted with such expressiveness that they sometimes seen like apparitions.

    This painter performs alchemy. She goes back to a time when gold was something more than a material to by synthesised to make a profit. She wants to mine gold from our depths. She want to find the spiritual stone which is valuable and indestructible. She transports architecture which we cannot assign to any time to an spiritual space and makes them into shells for the soul.
    In her pictures, the artist states, 'I would like to feel who has lived there and how many'. And, 'Painting is about committing oneself to a spiritual world.'

    What 'house' means beyond any aspects of practicality, one's own mythical shell, becomes very evident in Schotten's paintings.  


    Christian Deckert, Artist
    January 2014

  • Walter Dahn about the works of Uta Schotten Open or Close


    Uta Schotten is a painter. All her pictures, no matter the thematic thread, are contemporary (topical) pictures with an awareness of painting after painting. They are ‘open’ pictures, which allow questions and loop holes. Portraits, flowers, animals can be seen again as if for the first time. They are truthful and real, therefore beautiful but not decorative, garrulous or entertaining. Uta Schotten’s paintings change our perspective of the subject matter she paints. That is why the things she paints in an everyday setting become a little more ‘understandable’. She salvages things for us in her painting and imbues them with new value. Value which has been overlooked for too long. 

    Walter Dahn, May 2000

  • Siegfried Gohr about the works of Uta Schotten Open or Close


    The painter surveys herself and does so with a merciless lack of restraint. Doing this, she leans on photography to supply apparently reliable basic data. The photographic picture proves, however, to be unable to hold its own against the procedures of painting. Painting corrodes the figurative and mimetic substance of the motifs. The possible naturalism which is inherent to photography dissolves gradually. The often sought after appeal which comes about when a photograph gets transformed by painting is lost. If we are to establish her search as one taking place where pictures come into being and then disappear again, we may have a better idea of what matters to Uta Schotten.

    It comes, therefore, as no surprise that the motif of a pair of eyes is so significant in her faces. The eyes, into which you look and which glance at the outside world, form a decisive boundary.
    They are the fixed points as well as mysterious transitions from inside to outside, from I to the world, but also to the picture coming into being and fleeing. Thus the view of oneself does not lead to self-assurance but rather to countless questions. The painter’s form of expression is selected in such a way that the lack of mercy in the eyes appears delicate and gentle in the picture. The colour tones remain broken, drenched in light. The paintbrush is applied confidently and yet the observer gets the feeling that the brush touches what the eyes see as if it were imbued with the sensitivity of careful fingers.

    Siegfried Gohr, May 2000

  • Galerie Thomas Zander, Köln Open or Close


    A mere glimpse of a face or of striking facial features enables the identification of a person. Criminal offenders, who wish to remain unidentified, disguise their faces, in particular mouth and chin, using a cloth or scarf. Or they use a stocking mask, which although transparent covers the entire head so tightly so as to make the face appear deformed. Some believe, however, that hiding the eyes behind sunglasses is sufficient to make later recognition more difficult. All these strategies are based on the principle, that the whole is disguised when the viewer is deprived of any significant part.
    Uta Schotten utilises this fact in her series of painted self-portraits, which were created in front of a mirror. She confines her attention to small sections of the eyes and mouth area and in doing so counteracts the art historical genre of portraits so beholden to the depiction of individual identity. The portrait depicts an actual person and not some kind of standardized facial pattern like a cosmetic fashion shot.
    Uta Schotten, however, by offering select details of her own face makes it anonymous. The understandable result is that of a masquerade. Thus the art historical concept of portraits is reversed and with it its daily practical use, for example as a mug shot or passport picture.
    Despite the quasi-impressionistic blurring of the treatment of form and the according brush stroke, the facial parts are reproduced realistically. Yet the degree of formal verism or definition of image is not ultimately decisive for the cognitive contents of the picture but rather the totality of what is shown is decisive. In other picture series, Uta Schotten has dissolved the physiognomic plasticity to an even greater extent in structured areas of colour and it is here even more obvious that the painter’s blurring of the outer face is bound to mean a blurring of the expression of personal identity.
    She refers to photographs in these other series of work. Snapshots of friends and acquaintances are rendered in such a way that the colour and spacial proportions are changed and distorted thus allowing a new and individual picture reality to arise. The other snapshots are from an old family album with people unknown to the artist, apart from information gleamed from stories. Schotten counters the in the meantime ‘historical’ picture atmosphere of those portrayed posing in front of the camera prior to the seventies and eighties with today’s contemporary painterly means. She immerses herself hermeneutically in the world of a generation since passed as if they had been able to pose for her.
    Generally, Schotten’s pictures offer a recourse of the extent to which photography and painting have liberated themselves from each other over the last hundred years. The pictorial aesthetics of the nineteenth century only take centre-stage in the shop windows of suburbia, where studio owners exhibit work samples of wedding couples standing in front of ornate drapery. Otherwise photography has assumed the original function of portrait painting and allowed the pictorial medium a successive reduction and abstraction of form, even to the extent of monochromatic images. At the same time, photography has – and not just since the Avant-garde around 1920 – developed its own contemporary aesthetic.
    This, on the other hand, means theoretical as well as practical challenges for painting. Photorealistic painting imitated photography thirty years ago. The painted pictures were meant to look like photographs. The next generation of artists then began experimenting with photo canvas. Uta Schotten ( 1972) now steps up as part of a young generation of artists who use the medial pictures without bias as a source of inspiration and an aid but pursue, first and foremost, painting judged on its own merit - a variation of the well-known saying ‘peinture pour la peinture’. A critical distance to the handed down types and genres of painting is visible in the motif of self-portraits made anonymous. A liberating distance very much necessary for something new to emerge.

    Jürgen Kisters

    Cologne, 7.6. – 6.8.2000

    Kunstforum International

  • Galerie Epikur, Wuppertal Open or Close

    Peter Caspary - Uta Schotten

    ‘Natura morta, neue Bilder’ Galerie Epikur

    Wuppertal gallerist, HP Nacke, almost always combines his presentations of an artist, in this case Peter Caspary, born in 1953 with a cabinet debuting a younger artist. In the last exhibition this role was filled by Uta Schotten, born in 1972.
    Both artists have as their starting point a nature scene and the classical academic drawing from nature. The scholar, Albertus Magnus, founded a method of systematically documenting nature for botany and zoology in the 13th century. It took another two-hundred years until still life became established within art. Even then it was not an independent genre. The baroque floral nature studies had a mimetic character und the painters of that era made great efforts to reproduce what they saw with the highest possible degree of precision. Modern artists have consciously detached themselves from the principle of nature ‘imitatio’. Among them, Peter Caspary and Uta Schotten, who in their own individual and anti-illusionistic way, translate the topos of traditional plant still life into a pictorial language very much of the 21st century.
    Caspary makes use of iconography full of buds, cell structures, stencil-like leaves, pod and bean shapes, realistic leek stalks and bulbous onion plants. He sometimes sets these motifs up as precise and stylised drawings familiar to us from biology textbooks. The plants are also sometimes subject to a large degree of abstraction, ranging as far as action painting. He breaks with art historical precursors with this style of painting.
    With her naturalistic painting style, Uta Schotten concentrates on the calla (lily). The name calla is derived from the Greek word, calla meaning beauty and much like the orchid has always been thought of as the epitome of botanic beauty and elegance. Schotten avoids any illusion of three-dimensionality in her pictures. The style of painting is instead consciously flat; the dark backgrounds appear relatively neutral due the restraint of colour. She deals with close-ups of individual details for instance blossoms, buds or the leaves on the stalks. This fragmentary approach allows a contemporary image syntax.
    The depiction of ‘natur mort’ once had an allegorical meaning. A still life of ‘natur mort’ meaning lifeless, chopped down and harvested nature - nature sometimes in the early stages of withering and decay - used to represent the religious and moral teachings on the subject of the finiteness of being and the never-ending circle of life. Until these teachings were paid tribute to, other specific painting needs, such as the need for perfect compositional order and other aesthetic aspects remained of incidental importance. Peter Caspary’s pictorial inventory consists almost exclusively of agricultural crops cultivated by man. An aesthetic value of beauty, as idealised by the cultural philosophers of the eighteenth and nineteenth century cannot, however, be seen in the ‘natural beauty’ of agricultural crops. Those cultural philosophers viewed ‘the wild’, meaning untouched by civilization, a priori as noble. The romantics considered the natural beautiful, as they believed it to be a revelation of divine creation. Caspary’s ‘natur mort’ is, however, from a time when beauty is subject to the elaborate strategies of market specialists and product designers and economized accordingly. Every supermarket manager follows that tenit, that shiny apples sell better than wrinkled apples and is completely oblivious to the ‘memento mori’ – the baroque and renaissance symbolism of still life - and to a bitten apple as a reference to the fall of man in old master paintings. Such an allegorical perspective of nature has become totally obsolete and has been replaced of late by an ideological view, which is dominated by the current political discussions about biotechnology. The latter discussions attempt to attain an ideal functional state, for example, the optimum sturdiness of a plant. It does not matter for example how rape, from which rape seed oil is made, looks. Whereas in other areas optical appeal is the prerequisite for marketing. Every caterer knows how to arrange three paltry side dishes on a plate so as to make the plate appear full. Still life rarely sets about exposing such optical illusions in the various epochs. On the contrary, it made use of such illusions.
    Caspary’s perspective dissects illusions. Circular splotchy shapes resemble the cell cultures seen through a microscope. Of course, Peter Caspary does not follow that rational stringency of thinking as seen in the history of science, ranging from ‘On the Nature of the Soul and its Origin’ by Albertus Magnus to the research results of molecular biology. His paintings are collage-like with sudden painted over additions of fruit motifs. Simple and coarse outline sketches and large sections of illegible writing make his paintings cryptic and emotionalise them at the same time.
    He does, however, remain true to the painting medium. As does Uta Schotten who proves, painting is capable of asserting itself against other technical visual media. Faced with an overabundance of visual images ad nauseam, Caspary and Schotten use a reduced, specifically pointed and calm pictorial language to oppose the tendency to visual trashiness.

    Jürgen Raap

    Wuppertal, 17.8.-25.09.2007

    Kunstforum International