The Inner Blue
Preface to Dagmar Bergmann's painting

Born of migrating parents in post-war Germany, raised in a refugee camp up to the age of 7, Dagmar Bergmann places her works between secret and broken identity, between the color blue so seldom seen in the northern skies of her childhood and the existence of a hidden past which her parents, as refugees from East Germany, never wished to discuss.

Those impossible memories are the shattered mirrors with which she made her first mobiles, and which she later incorporated in her blue paintings. Mirrors of a splintered yet unchangeable identity, the razor sharp edge of that which is broken and which can only be softened by an infinite blue.

Born to migration through no choice of her own, Dagmar Bergmann takes her inner landscapes in search of a blue from elsewhere to explain ‘hereness’. She left Germany in 1974 and crossed all continents. Today she lives in a French Indian Ocean Island where the blue of the sky and the shattered mirrors of the sea surround her studio with their secret song.

Before the glittering mirrors, before the mirrors themselves, she had an extremely poor childhood. A childhood during which Dagmar wrote her unknown past by drawing endless friezes with pencil stubs. In this writing of silence which tries to follow the secret as it meanders and soars, Dagmar Bergmann gradually found her idea of abstract lyricism.

The years of studying Fine Arts, first in Germany and then in France, allowed her to express what she had learned about the secret. She translates the innumerable almost transparent layers in which it hides, by glass painting and superposed acetate sheets. But it is in the glaze of oil painting that she identifies these layers. The writing of the painter appears as a watermark in those superposed transparent layers. Sometimes she even pierces the layers as far as the canvas by using pointed instruments such as shards of mirror with which she is continually preoccupied. This is the origin of the series "About Silence".

Parallel to her work with glaze, she still produces works made from mirrors. It is in the shining shards of mirror that the poet’s "dur désir de durer" "Thedour Desir to endure" is incarnated, and it is in the blue of the paintings – the most resistant color of the palette – that promise of durability is expressed. Between these lies the work of Dagmar Bergmann, the relationship between identity and secret, discovery and loss.

The revelation of this intermediate space came about in the late 80s, when Dagmar Bergmann pushed her research methods to the limit, and began to associate, in two parallel spaces, mirror shards and oil painting, both in the same frame but on different planes. The shadow of the shards placed on a glass is cast onto the canvas. She adds the transparency of the shadow to the glaze of the canvas in an inner reflection. Through these shadows, the shards become mobile, travel over the canvas, following its shapes or opposing them depending on the tricks of the light. This is the theme of the series "Shades of Mirrors," taken up again in the series "A Migrator’s inner Landscapes".

From then on, in a work whose fundamental components were successfully completed, the quest for identity continued between transparency and depth, a game of reflections and shadows. The recognition of this game, long repressed, pushed Dagmar Bergmann to accentuate the dynamic character of her work. The idea of making a film crept up on her. This necessitated a thorough apprenticeship of computer graphics and years of research to come to the concept of a first exhibition entitled "Out of the Blue". The current concept links together an oil painting and an abstract film shown on a large LCD screen, suggesting possible journeys across the canvas. The camera is drawn along by the lyricism of transparency and shade, bringing the viewer back to the canvas, where he finds secret landscapes and can embark on his own journey. This is the theme of the exhibition in preparation: "The Exit is inside".

With this, Dagmar Bergmann’s dream will hopefully come true: to dance in a blue world, in a transparent identity, in the shadow of mirrors which don’t wound.

Jacques-Marie Aurifeille (Aix-en-Provence, 1999)


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