• Björn Vedder “Wuthering Heights”, 2018

The painting of Römer + Römer “Shower Tower Oase”, 2014, oil on canvas, 2 x 7,5 m (3 parts) was part of the 4 artist group show.

Nina and Torsten Römer are an artist duo who have worked together since 1998. In this exhibition they present their painting Shower Tower Oasis, a triptych from 2014. The painting is on loan from a collection in southern Germany. The painting shows the highly unique style and highly unique way of working that Römer and Römer known for. The artists frequent large-scale events, such as the Rio Carnival, the Burning Man Festival or on this case the Fusion Festival, and take pictures. These are processed on the computer, reassembled, and distorted. The artist couple then work in tandem to transform the motifs into many superimposed layers of images and thousands of individually applied dots of oil paint on canvas. This produces a special kind of visual impression that has been variously compared with Impressionism and in particular Pointillism, even though this comparison underscores the variances more than anything. The images are not created entirely from dots of paint, rather the painted pixels are alternated with flat-surface areas, and the reality they depict is not free-form nature in the way we naturally perceive it with the eye, but this reality is, via the photo the paintings reference, always already medially conveyed, and it is, like this photo as well, distorted. In other words, just as Impressionism, in contrast to academic painting, was based on the knowledge that one generally views things out in the world differently than one does in the studio, and that the reality that defines us is quite different, Römer and Römer also reference the knowledge that the reality that defines us today is, in turn, very different from what we see with the naked eye. The distorting of the photos is therefore not only an intervention in the image, but also says something about the medially mediated painting: it underscores that the image distorts the reality that it depicts. Just like the Impressionists concluded from their realization that this other defining reality also requires other forms of representation, Römer and Römer do likewise. However, since the reality they define as constitutive is different, their pixels are different as well. They are not the round pixels of the retina, but the square pixels of the camera. Nevertheless, the aesthetic experience of the painting does not convey the impression of distance, strangeness, and a feeling of insecurity, as might be expected under the mentioned conditions. Rather, the painting invites one to subsequently experience a sense of empathy, and I think that is due to its content. The scenes depicted in the Römers’ paintings often strike me as a celebration not only of the joy associated with group festivities, but also of spending time together and of camaraderie. At times they even have something evocative about them. Just today, and I’ve known their work for many years, the paintings appear to me as if Römer and Römer, in times of insecurity and dwindling solidarity, wished to paint invocations of community and solidarity on the canvasses, in order to remind us ‒ conveyed through the joy of group festivities ‒ that there are good reasons to be together. And I think that today, given the ever-increasing number of Heathcliffs who are acting out in excessive ways, who pit division against community and hatred against joy, this is more important than ever.

Text by Björn Vedder in the catalogue of the exhibition “Wuthering Heights” in Schafhof – European Center for Art Upper Bavaria, Freising, 2018


Björn Vedder, Dr. phil (* in Brakel in 1976) is a writer and curator. He lives in Herrsching a. Ammersee. He recently published: Neue Freunde (transcript Verlag 2017) and Reicher Pöbel (Büchner Verlag 2018).

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