Brigitte Koch is an independent artist who does not claim academic training nor to a group or a community of artists. She lives in Alsace and develops her activity through exhibitions increasingly common in this region and Germany. In a sense, she is, therefore, an amateur artist that paints by personal vocation, with that, when it comes to only a leisure amateur artist, work can be pleasant yet slightly deprecating. In another sense, she already has received much professional recognition.
Indeed, the paintings of Brigitte Koch have nothing amateur or « free » about them. She links an approach of lyrical abstract force to her canvases, adding figurative elements that render the tone of each work and also give it its title. Brigitte Koch’s paintings are typical of a long and strong expressionist tradition that runs throughout the twentieth century from the Fauves and German Expressionists to the German neo- expressionists of the 1980s and 1990s.
I do not know how Brigitte Koch intellectually assumes these rather heavy load …but it is clear that she recognizes herself within them- and is comfortable , very comfortable.
What struck me right away three years ago when I saw for the first time her paintings, was her mastery of formats and the quality of her colors. Brigitte Koch does not use « pretty » colors, but strong colors, wild ones, characteristic of German Expressionism of the north, with blue, ochre yellow, without complex, sometimes muffled by sharp white streaks. I do not want to overwhelm with names too heavy or notable, but there are echoes here of Baselitz, Immendorf , Middendorf , Lüpertz or Leroy. There is ground to an almost earthy sense of knowledge.
One of the major qualities of Brigitte Koch, one that makes her escape « amateurism » is that she does not hesitate to create grandeur and to give free rein to her expressive gestures. Immediately one feels that she could go even further towards an even freer rein to her lyricism, even if it means fighting with issues of abstract composition. The stage where she is, the composition arises naturally in the intersection of body gestures and themes that animate the canvas: the image is still not too great for the sentiment it provokes. I’d like to see what happens when the image that guides her is not just a feeling resulting only in color and gestures, but a feeling that arises without the help of anything that is or may be recognizable. I say this is because I already perceive in Brigitte Koch enough mastery that would permit her to venture in more daring projects.
The art critic that I am sees a lot of very different and necessarily unequal things: amateur work as professional work without much force , amateur work that is « successful » but that will never go far, and professional work that comes out sometimes with too much assurance. It is extremely rare that we find, as has happened to me with Brigitte Koch, work that has a clear ability to go further. I fondly remember the evening workshops where a famous painter struggled to express feelings and sentiments corresponding to a landscape while only showing the lyrical and poetic effect of those feelings. I have exactly the same impression with Brigitte Koch: she feels and expresses with extreme sensitivity and mastery what life offers her and produces those effects in her work…there does not seem to be a limit of what she has to offer…. In short, we can bet on it.
Yves Michaud, 17th February 2014
Former Director of Superior National School of Fine Arts in Paris ( l’école nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts à Paris)