When I look at nature, I see paint and color.
Pierre Bonnard said: "The relationship between painting and life is not a matter of painting life, but a matter of giving life to a painting."
My work is inspired by nature and my connection to a spiritual reality manifesting itself through forces in nature and life. In my experience the inner landscape mirrors the outer landscape. I try to make visible the invisible through color and lyrical abstractions. Symbolic abstraction develops over time for me as my own personal visual language and proves itself many times archetypal, often to my own surprise. My pieces usually have a source in my life conscious or unconscious as it may be.
An immediate connection to life experiences is especially apparent in my pastel drawings. The images are fresh, sometimes poetic, looking at situations with humor. My paintings have been inspired by my garden and the landscape of New Mexico: a place of light and color. The river is rushing by, always new, and the hummingbirds are doing their dance of delight in life. The garden is enclosed and intimate; it reveals full circle the course of life within one year's seasons. It is a place of tranquility and beauty but also one of natural loss and death.
Seasons manifest different colors and textures which lead me often to a change in technique translating my experience into different rhythms on the canvas, like the Divas or nature spirits that seem to appear in the corner of my eye as I walk through my garden.
In the process of painting I walk a fine line between control, intuition and spontaneity. A fine garden, a fine painting and I think life looses their magic for me if there is no wildness and unpredictability.
My grandfather was a painter at the turn of the century in Germany. He painted the beautiful roses from my grandmothers garden, my paradise as a child, found again here and now in New Mexico. I surrender to the flow, like the river running behind my house near Pecos, New Mexico.
Resume and exhibition record
Born 1942 in Stuttgart, Germany.
1988 MFA University of CO in Boulder. Studies with Chuck Forseman,
Luis Eads, Linda Herritt, & Frank Sampson.
Master painting class with Sam Scott.
1986 BFA with honors University of CO in Boulder.
1990 -1996 New Mexico Highlands University.
Assistant Professor of Art in Painting, Drawing and Art Appreciation.
1987 - 1990 University of CO in Boulder.
Instructor in Painting and Drawing.
2011-2012 Mill Fine Art, Santa Fe,
2010 to present Rabbit Brush Gallery Boulder/Hygiene, Co
2009-2011 Lakind Fine Art, Santa Fe,NM
2006-2008 Waxlander Gallery Santa Fe, NM
2004-2006 Carlisle Fine Art Santa Fe, NM
2000 –2003 Brűggemann Contemporary Santa Fe, NM
Jules Place, Boston
Maclaren Markowitz, Boulder, CO.
1997 Sandy Carson, Denver, CO.
1996 Adieb Khadoure Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
“Images of Spring” Maclaren Markowitz, Boulder, CO.
Ryoko Suzuki, Tokyo, Japan
“New Watercolors from India”
Lutz Galerie Stuttgart, Germany.
1995 Maclaren Markowitz, Boulder, CO.
Ryoko Suzuki, Tokyo, Japan
1994 Sandy Carson, Denver, CO.
“Old Spirit – New Place” Arrott Gallery, Las Vegas, NM.
New Mexico Highlands University.
University of New Mexico, Los Alamos, NM.
“Bali-Bali” Adams State College, Alamosa, CO.
1992 Harris Gallery, Houston, TX.
Mill Street Gallery, Aspen, CO.
Gallery 44, Boulder, CO.
Rule Modern and Contemporary, Denver, CO.
1991 “New Faculty” Arrot Gallery, Las Vegas, NM. New Mexico Highlands University.
“Brigitte Brűggemann & Don Shaw” Gallery 44 Boulder, CO.
1990 Atelierhaus Pichler, Augsburg, Germany.
Conlon Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.
Galerie Winkler, Hamburg, Germany
Gallery 44, Boulder, CO.
Auraria Library Gallery, University of Colorado, Denver, CO.
“Colorado State of the Art” Arnesan Fine Arts, Vail, CO.
Traveling to: Colorado Springs, Denaver,
Arvada Center for the Arts and Aspen Art Museum.
Juried by Bruce Guenther, Richard Koshalek, & Lucy Lippard.
“New Names New Works” Santa Fe East, Santa Fe, NM.
Juried by Ruth Meyer of Taft Museum and Marjorie Talalay of the
Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art.
Kunsthaus Schaller, Stuttgart, Germany.
1988 “Hours in the Garden” University Art Gallery, University of Colorado at Boulder.
1987 “All Boulder” Boulder Art Center, CO.
Sheryl Lee, Beverly Hills, CA.
permanent collection Primavera Health Spa, Japan.
and many private collections in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan
Museum of Art Albuquerque
The Hallmark Collection Inasawa Mental Health Clinic,
U.S. West, Denver, CO. Japan.
Texaco Collection The Larson Healing Institute.
Career Tracks, Boulder, CO.
CBS Headquarters, Dallas, TX.
American Management, Houston TX.
American Management, Denver, CO.
Elysee fine Art, 223 Canyon road,
Santa Fe, NM
505 820 9229
Sandra Phillips Gallery
420 West 12th Ave (12th & Elati St.)
Denver, CO 80204
303 573 5969
Brigitte Brüggemann studio
40 El Gusano Dr.
Ilfeld, NM 87538
P.O.B. 354 Rowe, phone: (575) 421 3236
NM 87562 e-mail email@example.com
Southwest Art, Wolf Schneider:
….” The way abstract landscape painter Brigitte Brϋggemann sees her garden-inspired canvases that brim with an infusion of flowers, plants, and light offer a meditative quality in their creation…..
Crosswinds Weekly Lisa Polisar
“Learning to fly” …..with a painting style that defies traditional definitions of expressionism and impressionism, Brϋggemann reproduces nature with a lyrical delicacy and amorphous symbolism of images from the magic garden of her childhood - acorns freshly fallen from an ancient oak, a single leaf floating in a sun[stroked pond, the reflection of swaying branches on still water. Her signature, gentle abstraction, carried out with potent hues and an Asian treatment of line and form. Simultaneously infuses control, intuition and spontaneity. The end result is that in these paintings she is able to capture the intrinsic qualities of the natural world – beauty, loss, beginnings and endings, ….The garden paintings …. Are more subtle, created in gentle shades of pinks and yellows, showing not only her love affair with color but the impressionist principle of light upon variable surfaces. Amid this artistry of blurred lines and careful curves, there are no fixed, ultimate thoughts here – only wonder, implications and speculation – ins flowing into outs and a back-and-forth between the two. …
Santa Fe Reporter Zane Fischer:
Brigitte Brϋggemann’s paintings may ostensibly focus on flowers, but they are, to the last of them, masterpieces of color, line and shifting ideas,,,,,,
New Mexican Craig Smith
Brϋggemann’s oils …. Her subjects tend to be abstract interpretations of outdoor vistas, or believable landscapes of the imagination – the kinds of places you might be able to turn around and walk into, if you could find that place east of the sun and west of the moon….
Jo Ann Garcia Orellana (Gallery Hop)
… Inspired by nature, her lyrical organic abstractions are a joyful celebration of living, Brϋggemann uses the garden as metaphor for life…. Her colors are vibrant, especially her choice of reds, and her work definitely reflects the beauty of the human soul…..
the Art of Brigitte Bruggemann
Douglas A. Fairfield Ph.D., ©
Curator, Museum of Art in Albuquerque
Brigitte Brüggemann creates art from one place: Nature. That is her wellspring. Her landscapes in oil, watercolor, and pastel are not traditional however. They are visual manifestations of a spiritual reality prompted by intrinsic forces in Nature and life.
Her creative process begins with intimate communions with Nature where, according to the artist, “the inner landscape mirrors the outer landscape.” Consequently, Brüggemann’s work is highly personal, yet it evokes a universal familiarity. Her pieces are visual comfort zones, places that we have all encountered at one time or another however briefly, and subconsciously we experience a better place.
Brüggemann has traveled to and lived in a variety of places. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, during World War II, she bore witness to the horrors and devastation of military conflict. As a young woman Brüggemann resided in Paris, London, and the Bahamas. Extended visits to Africa, Greece, India, Indonesia, the Middle East, Thailand, and Bali have put her in touch with places and people that few of us will ever know. In the United States the artist has lived in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Tennessee, Texas and Colorado before establishing her permanent residence in New Mexico in 1990.
Given what appears to have been a nomadic lifestyle one would expect Brüggemann’s art to be wildly eclectic. But at this point in her life and artistic career her vision has become singular, even localized. She confesses as much: “My paintings have been inspired by my garden and the landscape of New Mexico: a place of light and color.” “[And] when I look at Nature I see paint and color”
When looking at Brüggemann’s paintings so too does the viewer see paint and color manipulated abstractly; in short, the formal process of painting. But the inspiration for her work comes distinctively from a world based in reality. Indeed, one cannot help but see expressive notations of birds in flight, flowers in bloom, a gecko in the grass, and other tangible contrivances to her garden landscape. In fact, Brüggemann’s paintings may be seen as metaphors for life in her garden: her paintings are fully realized to the same extend that a garden is planted and nurtured to manifest life. On yet another level her work often transcends the garden and may be viewed as microcosms of life in general. The dichotomies of life (the yin yang factor) – light and darkness, peace and synergy, life and death- are instilled within her imagery and are key considerations to understanding Brüggemann’s work.
But floating details such as birds and blossoms, even the temples and shrines that allude to her many travels, serve as visual snippets of realities that suggest narrative. Brüggemann calls them “symbolic abstractions.” There are incidental marks, shapes, and forms that ground her imagery in a familiar universe. Comprised of things animal, mineral, and vegetable. Or, as she puts it, “Water, wind, cloud, tree and flower are my connection[s] to Nature and [together they] represent the cycles of life.
Titles by the artist prompt narrative even more. But her paintings and pastels are not literal translations of the environment. They are emotional sensations put down abstractly regarding the transience of Nature. So story telling is best left to our imagination. This is part of the challenge and fun interpreting her work.
For the most part, Brüggemann’s paintings border on the nonobjective, not far removed from Claude Monet’s (1840-1926) late pond studies at Giverny. And like the French Impressionist’s late work, Brüggemann’s observation s of light and color have taken her work to the brink of total abstraction. Her paintings exist as lyrical contemplations of the most ephemeral phenomena in Nature: the flux of color and the passage of time. What we are presented with are externalizations of emotional responses to natural stimuli.
In The Art of Spiritual Harmony (1910) Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) wrote: “…as the organic form falls into the background, the abstract ideal achieves greater prominence. But the organic form possesses an inner harmony of its own…its inner note will always be heard.” This holds true in Brüggemann’s work. Her pieces are decisively abstract, yet one clearly senses the essence of Nature as the vital component. The “inner landscaper” that Brüggemann talks about – that which is manifested abstractly on canvas-is drawn directly from Nature. And the artist communicates that essence via high-key color and rhapsodic brushstrokes.
Interpretations aside, the lyricism in Brüggemann’s painting style acknowledges that of Kandinsky’s circa 1912, though less forceful. Her marks are romantic curvilinear sweeps that take us from one point to another within the composition. Primary focal points are rare. We encounter nebulous fields Brüggemann invites us to follow her improvisational mark-making to the edges, even beyond the physical borders of the canvas. This is why she avoids formal framing techniques. She wants her viewer to fully apprehend the extended relationship between image and that, which exists outside of the image.
This is, in itself, a 17th–century Baroque sensibility. And from an art historical viewpoint baroque space is very much a component in Brüggemann’s work. Painted space, that which we see on canvas, is suggestive of space more expansive. Incidental marks and swaths of color within her expressionistic compositions guide our attention to a place beyond the picture plane. And that place is Nature, a very real place that becomes emotionally activated on a subconscious level. But make no mistake; Brüggemann’s paintings are not derivative of 17th –century Dutch landscapes, they are contemporary constructs realized through modernist sensibilities.
Her work is modernist in the same sense as Italian painter Piero Dorazio (b. 1927) described modern painting. Such work, he declares, is “a continuous structure of energetic elements which can appear in different combinations, relationships, scale, and most important, color and light values…closer to the spiritual, closer to the instinct of the modern soul.” This describes Brüggemann's art perfectly. Indeed, her warm color schemes and preponderance of expressive, energetic brushstrokes are life affirming.
Physically, Brüggemann’s painting surfaces exude the efflorescence of Nature. Her use of glaze creates atmospheric qualities of depth, movement and transformation. Opacity is juxtaposed with translucency. High-key colors commingle harmoniously. And her expressive marks suggest Nature’s innate disposition for change. Consequently, viewers knew to Brüggemann’s work have commented how she must be perpetually happy or, at least, very content in her life. The artist concedes felicity, but in a light-hearted retort reminds her public that, “I am, after all, German.”
Interestingly, it is the few darker pieces in Brüggemann’s oeuvre, perhaps germane to her heritage, that offer mystery and intrigue. Smaller in scale and somber in palette these intimate studies of isolated blossoms incite personal reflection. Not unlike 19th -century German romanticism Brüggemann’s dark paintings seek to connect Nature with a deeper realm of the human soul. But by no means are these pieces saddening; they instead suggest a more pensive mood, more meditative then responsive in character.
Most often Brüggemann’s palette tends toward the warm. She incorporates colors that stimulate and induce a positive state of mind. And though the artist is keenly aware of local color, floral hues, mountain tonalities and the brilliant New Mexico sky-it is but a catalyzing effect upon her choice of color that is markedly arbitrary. This is another modernist construct that Brüggemann instills into her work.
Frenchman Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) stated that, “The main subject [in my painting] is the surface which has its color, over and above [that] of the objects.” His use of arbitrary color was visually disturbing to the 19th –century Parisians. Most viewers, except, perhaps, Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and the Nabis (a group of painter in 1888 in which Bonnard was associated), could not conceive how color could preside separately from subject matter. Bonnard’s colors were not fixed in time of place. Neither are Brüggemann’s color schemes. Her colors exist ostensibly, symbolizing Nature rather than imitating it directly. Hence, Brüggemann’s work never looks calculated. It asserts itself with a childlike spontaneity resonating with sincerity, discovery, and playfulness.
One can reference Brüggemann’s work to the bold experiments by Bonnard, Gauguin, and Kandinsky, among others. The liberation of color, the symbolism of color, a display of emotion via expressive brushstrokes, and the objectification of painting are part and parcel of Brüggemann’s imagery. These artistic innovations initiated 20th-century modernism. They now exist as part of the lexicon of contemporary art making. These forces of expressionism are not only seen in Brüggemann’s work but compel abstract painting in general.
Finally, Brüggemann’s work may, indeed, be traced to artistic antecedents. It can be formally analyzed by way of technique, style, and execution. But in the end one clearly understands its source. Her paintings, watercolors, and pastels are visual celebrations of Nature. They are also colorful exhilarations of life. And her message is simple enough; “To bring joy into people’s lives with color and beauty.”
Douglas A. Fairfield Ph.D., ©
Curator, Museum of Art in Albuquerque