Roswitha DOERIG (1929-2017)
Stepping outside the box
Roswitha Doerig was a Swiss artist fundamentally committed to painting as the ultimate medium of expression. Taught by Franz Kline and later a student at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, she created a body of work on the basis of the expression of gesture.
Roswitha Doerig was born in 1929 in the canton of Appenzell in Switzerland, where women’s suffrage was only granted in 1990. Doerig had to work extra hard to establish herself as a woman artist—she wanted to “step outside the box” from an early age, also a reason why she chose to take on such ambitious monumental projects.
From the 1990s onwards, Roswitha Doerig focused her attention on gestural expressionism and discovered the teachings of the American painter Franz Kline. At the same time, Doerig’s palette gradually became more restricted. The artist used black in contrast with the canvas background, which was painted in white
or left unpainted, adopting the motto “less is more”. Like the abstract expressionists, Doerig laid her canvas on the ground to paint— no longer standing in front of the painting, the artist was now in the painting.
Throughout the artist’s creative process, the work had no preconceived direction. Her gestures were applied in all directions, creating a sense of disorientation and imbalance. The large format that Doerig was so fond of allowed her great physical expressiveness. The creation of the painting became a dance between spontaneity and control. On the subject of her gestural painting, Doerig used to say: “What appears to have been painted with ease is in fact the result of a lot of work.”
Roswitha Doerig was certainly an artist of her times. Fuelled by the trends of the second half of the 20th century, the painter crystallised the issues the marked the era. Alongside photography, video and other visual media, Roswitha Doerig is one of those artists who answer the question: how do you continue to paint at the dawn of the 21st century?