At first glance, Achim Bertenburg’s paintings appear to consist of monochrome surfaces with fogged-over or smudged structures. On closer inspection, however, one seems to find suggestions of forms with the painterly texture – shadows or contours of objects or even landscapes that disappear into the diffuse colour mist. Nevertheless, this impression never becomes certainty, since the brushwork and the ambiguous, overlapping colour shapes, which seem to merge into each other, ultimately prove to be the actual motif and motivation of these paintings.
In addition to these schematically suggested “apparitions”, one also sees lines and ciphers that represent nothing except themselves and seem to have emerged out of the spontaneous, free movement of the paintbrush. One would be tempted to speak of gestures or notations with a certain “expression”, were it not for the fact that Bertenburg is highly sceptical of the traditional categories of “immediacy”, “spontaneity” and even “expressiveness” as the basis of contemporary painting.
And yet, in various paintings, we discover strokes, arches, streaks or broad bands of colour, which serve no imaginary pictorial space, no implied reference to an object, but rather refer only to themselves. At times, however, even these purely “abstract” elements are subjected to blurriness and the clarity of their progression along a differently coloured, contrasting surface appears to gradually dissolve as though it were being swallowed by fog.
If one accepts the coexistence of contradictory pictorial experiences, one begins to reflect not only upon the painting, but also on one’s own perception. Ideally, thinking, seeing, remembering, imagining and painting are all one.