Hertha Miessner - The inventory of the invisible

The German artist made her debut as a painter in the early Nineties of last century, after her studies at the Fine Arts Academy of Munich.

After a period of exploration and orientation, during which she has mastered new technologies in the fields of photography and digital art, Miessner embarked upon a long process of introspective research that culminated in the creation of digital works characterized by a dramatic character that is closely related to painting, made of chiaroscuro effects, shades and colours in pure baroque style. Above all, her works evoke the “Italian baroque” linked to the counterreformation that dominated in that century, made of violent, sanguine heavy draperies enriched by dramatic theatrical touches, and associated with religious motifs.

But Hertha Miessner is nothing if not a wholly contemporary artist. Moreover, the topicality of her work is not limited to the use of digital media, which as the artist herself explains allows her to “bring the interior out… in a way that contrasts near and far, recognizable and hidden, colourful light and profound darkness…”. Her work succeeds in dematerializing the context to focus exclusively on a fragment of the whole, a sign, a “note” as we would say in musical terms. Everything is condensed in a single, extreme particle.

Her dialogue with Caravaggio’s Seven Works of Mercy consists of this exploration and revelation of the hidden fragment, of this research that makes it possible to bring the invisible to light, and of this constant opposition of “colourful light and profound darkness”. What works, if not these by Miessner that remind of heavy draperies made of thick layers of twisted and folded old fabrics, could dialogue better with all the dramatic pathos of the Carravaggesque scene? A drama condensed in a fragment: this is Miessner’s work for the Pio Monte della Misericordia in a nutshell.

In the artist’s own words “… it makes it possible to reveal invisible things, create impossible unions, discover new approaches…”: this may be the true novelty that Miessner introduces in art, through the digital medium which appears to be the most versatile and suitable to achieve this objective.

“… Discarded fragments from my paintings on canvas, transparent photography films or paper, these are the basis of my digital collages and the subjects of the image…”

Miessner thus succeeds in making fragments from her past come to life again; she recovers discards that are essentially pieces of her personal and collective memory from a past epoch and brings them up to date through the use of the very latest medium. An exploration of memory that becomes alive, real, topical and contemporary object.

Miessner “takes stock” of her own past through pieces of old fabrics and discarded objects; she shapes and manipulates them and then she photographs them; after this she manipulates on computer the photographic images, creating works that are dense, warm, dematerialized and yet so very material.

By taking stock of her own past, Miessner takes stock of a period, giving concrete substance to collective memory and bringing it to life in the here and now.

As in the dialogue with the work by Caravaggio, she therefore investigates, discovers and reveals the most secret and invisible part of it all: she brings to life the invisible, hidden and infinitely small elements that we sometimes fail to perceive, fragments that are dispersed in the whole, giving them autonomous dignity and independence from everything.

The ability to invent, to obtain the unattainable, to give space to memories, to dreams, to illusions: this is what the German artist pursues in her research.