The painting exhibition, held in Mannheim-Feudenheim on a Sunday, was suggested by a friend knowing that I am interested in taking up painting. This friend of mine has been telling me about Yvonne for a long time. The name “Die Leichtigkeit des Seins” or “The lightness of being” intrigued me – lightness of life is the last thing on my mind at this moment. I have been plagued by how I can live life without having 100 things to do and calmly and lightly. Yet, I had no expectations – just curiosity on what kind of paintings I would see.
My memory of Mannheim-Feudenheim was restricted to one very cold winter evening, a decade ago, when three of us – my husband, a friend and I – danced to keep the cold away after getting down at the wrong Mannheim. On deciding to walk from the station we did not find a soul on the streets and searched anxiously for a taxi to drive us all the way to Mannheim.
This time though, as we drove on a Sunday morning through the town, we had the navigation system and there was little chance of us getting lost. The Sunday quiet with just a couple of people, probably on their way to the church, reinforced the suburban feeling. The town itself had some interesting stately houses. A tramline ran between the streets. At some point even this took a turn into another part of the town. We continued on and stopped when our navigation indicated that we had reached our destination. My husband spotted the sign for the exhibition in a building opposite. All the doors seem to be closed. We tentatively walked into the gate.
Just behind the bushes was a “hof” – a courtyard and a small door at the back announcing “Kultur Treff” – “Culture meet”. We put our head around the corner to find a small group inside. A lady with a baby on her hip and another small girl next to her smiled at us – ah! “She must be the artist” – I mused . An older lady spoke in German about the work – about what inspired Yvonne Sievers. I had a completely different feeling about the paintings than she mentioned. It is always strange about the art – it is a typical example how beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and as does the interpretation of the beauty.
In Yvonne’s paintings I found a simplicity and yet a depth. The colours chosen made me feel calm. The Buddha – an embodiment of calm in the Universe – was more colorful than most paintings in the room. It drew the eyes of the audience as they slowly walked to the corner, mused over and moved to the sober paintings around.
The single dancer in brown seemed to dance in abandon without any thought to the world. They captured my attention as soon as I entered the room. It reflected my desire to dance with abandon in this world without a care in the world.
The small tiles in blue, painted by Yvonne to capture the feelings and perspective she had when she closed one eye, seemed to me to have a riot in it – a sense of confusion. I am not sure that is what she intended. Yet, it could have been a reflection of my own state of mind. With one part of my life put on hold right now, perhaps I felt like someone whose one eye is closed. The confusion on how I am going to resolve and open that part of my life mingled with the environment in which she created the paintings.
Art merged with the real world and what could be a better way to capture the audience than connecting with her and drawing her world into the painting? Can one enjoy art without feeling a connection of the art to one’s own life? Sometimes I feel art should make one forget the reality – yet, Yvonne’s painting brought out an acceptance of my own life and helped me see the beauty of experiencing my thoughts in a beautiful way.