Walter Stöhrer

Born in Stuttgart in 1937, and died in Berlin in 2000.

Stöhrer was a pupil of H.A.P. Griesbacher in Stuttgart before moving in 1959 to Berlin, where he developed an individual style, which he called ‘intra-psychic realism’. This involves colour applied with dynamic gestures of the brush over written characters and calligraphic signs.

Stöhrer began the example in the Reichstag Building by taking an impression from a plate prepared for dry point engraving. To this blue-grey ground he added black writing, small figures and curving lines. Then he covered parts of this underdrawing with passionate strokes of red, orange and other colours.

However, these intensely expressive gestures do not obliterate the drawing, which seems to subvert their boldness by suggesting a mysterious abyss behind. Although Stöhrer remained true to certain aspects of Art Informel to the end of his days, the strong emotions embodied in the eruptions of colour in his work enabled him to void the trap of slick, repetitive decorativeness.

His pictures feature surreal elements along with reminiscences of Art Brut, children’s drawings and the art of the mentally ill. Literally underlying the boldly executed brushstrokes, these elements signify a profound inner turmoil lurking beneath the extrovert brilliance of the swathes of colour.

In this sense, Stöhrer’s works may be interpreted as acts of mental self-assertion, as records of a lifelong battle with the monsters born of the sleep of reason.