Church St. Dionysius
Contemporary repainting or conservation of the existing building? This was the decision facing the congregation of the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Dionysius in Elsen, a district of Paderborn. As part of the extensive renovation of the listed church building, the decision was made in favour of an artistic re-painting by the internationally renowned artist Tobias Kammerer from Rottweil, thus bringing contemporary art into the church rooms.
- Tobias Kammerer
- Paderborn-Elsen, Germany
Contemporary repainting or preservation of the existing building? This was the decision facing the congregation of the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Dionysius in Elsen, a district of Paderborn. As part of the extensive renovation of the listed church building, the decision was made in favor of artistic repainting by the internationally renowned artist Tobias Kammerer from Rottweil and thus the introduction of contemporary art into the church interiors.
Kammerer is a master of color composition, intuitively recognizing the laws of color and light and responding to them in his painting. His paintings seem like monumental watercolors, quickly thrown down with oversized brushes. But the lightness of this painting is high art, executed with silicate paints in up to 30 glazing layers.
His concern, borne of deeply felt spirituality, is always the overall artistic design. In doing so, he never competes with architecture or manipulates its spatial effect, but interprets and transforms it through painterly commentary in the interplay between surface and line, stillness and dynamism, form and resolution. Kammerer's sacred work is colorful, life-affirming, and open to free interpretation; it refers to basic experiences of human existence and can be read in both religious and non-religious contexts.
"I work with mineral paints and glazes of KEIM," the artist explains. "Because their special brilliance and color strength support the optical depth and effect of my work."
At St. Dionysius, the artist picked up on the simple painting of the church and developed his own design based on it. "Color is a primal force, and the color assignments follow my conception of Christian symbolism," Kammerer said.
The early 13th-century baptistery is the oldest part of the parish church. Its vault is in shades of blue in keeping with the sky motif. The glazed painting in a moving ductus could also be interpreted here as "water of life", from which the baptized emerges as if reborn as a child of God.
The central nave is visually heightened by Kammerer's painting, as the blue in the lower areas of the vaulted surfaces lightens towards the top. This progression virtually draws the viewer upward and stretches the space. The artist gives the windows and the stone columns with their capitals more weight through colored accents.
Each vault closes with a circularly moving blue colored area around the keystone. The circle as a perfect geometric figure stands here for the perfection of God. Freely guided colored lines open up the closedness of the circular form and invite further interpretation.
The crossing vault above the altar is decorated with a large circular painting: Amorphously flowing, translucent surfaces in various shades of blue are interspersed with dynamic, circular lines in different colors and open to individual interpretations and sensations.
"At St. Dionysius, blue runs through all the rooms as the color of the sky and an expression of spirituality."
The rear wall of the choir room is an eye-catcher for church visitors. Behind the crucifix Tobias Kammerer has indicated a cross with delicate red lines, moving upward striving color areas in gold symbolize the idea of resurrection. The golden band originates from a precisely guided purple color base. The color red is associated with the idea of blood - here representing Christ's passion - but also his love for us humans.
On the west wall of the church used to hang a cross with a corpus from 1671, which is reminded by horizontal and vertical red lines in the shape of a cross. The main eye-catcher is a broad brushstroke, alternating from red to blue, that stretches towards the ceiling and symbolizes transformation - from emotion to spirituality, from suffering to salvation, from earth to heaven.
In the newly created Lady Chapel, the old Pietà has found its place. On the wall behind the sculpture, a cross becomes visible in broad, transparent areas of color, held lengthwise in ultramarine blue, crosswise in turquoise blue. The color flows are accentuated by lines in red and orange.
In St. Dionysius, Tobias Kammerer once again succeeds in recomposing the church space with his painterly interventions and initiating a dialogue between old and new, between past and present, between God and man.