White is not White

A length of white paper in front of a whitewashed wall. But surprisingly, on that gloomy winter morning, a wide spectrum of gray, brown and purple tones were on show: the texture of the wall, the interplay of light and shadow between the layers of paper. Janine Gerber makes the viewer realize how imprecisely the visual is often described. And she draws attention to the ephemerality of sensory impressions: suddenly the clouds drew apart and the sun lit up the room, leaving the color tones markedly transformed.
These connections to space, to daylight, and to the viewer are fundamental components of Janine Gerber's work - she dedicates extensive studies to these aspects and formulates aesthetic statements about them, discussing the deceleration of seeing as one of the objectives of her work. Her works only reveal themselves under close, repeated observation.
The paper installations are some of the most simple and yet most complex works in her œuvre. Paper may normally be a two-dimensional base for written and pictorial content, but Janine Gerber diverts it from this purpose and uses it as a scultpural material, presenting it as a three-dimensional object in the space. She is guided by the form of the material, the effects of the space, and the changing daylight. She considers black and white the purest forms of light, particularly well suited for displaying the color tones of daylight. Viewers are invited to trace the shifting nuances of light, along with the reflections of the space, the shadows, and the journey of their own gaze. The works, specially made for specific locations, are non-representional without being abstract, since they offer a concrete thematization of the central subjects in Janine Gerber's artistic inquiry: color, light, and space.
Gerber explores the same constellation of themes in her paintings, which are also characterized by a reductive use of form and color. She limits her spectrum of colors to a few that she describes as "unaesthetic": white, gray, and green, as well as ocker and earth tones. She uses brushes and scrapers to blend and overlay masses of paint, and to give them structure and form. In this way Janine Gerber not only shapes the image space but also dissolves it, extending her paintings into the third dimension. For Gerber, her paintings are more objects in a space than "simply" flat images. The works are painted on different materials - cotton, canas, burlap - and each material's individual fabric structure is consciously integrated into the image. The forms and structures that arise, with surfaces varying from matt to glossy, are captivating in their multilayered complexity. The ideal visitor to her exhibitions stays for a while or returns several times, observing how the works take effect in the specific situation of the space under changing light conditions.
Janine Gerber also invites viewers to take pleasure in exploring their own perception and its subjective nature through her works: the lingering of the gaze, the eye's journey over forms, colors, and surfaces, and through the space. Because white is never just white.

Stefan Dupke, curator and cultural manager, Hamburg, Germany