Cover photo Daniela Flörsheim/ Text by Corinna Heumann
Preserving paradises is the life motto of Düsseldorf artist Daniela Flörsheim. In her art work she deals with the major issues of our epoch, climate change and the extinction of species. She rethinks our relationship with nature. This rethought relationship with the diverse manifestations of our planet has to be emphatic because the earth is finite and vulnerable. It thus expands the socio-politically relevant potential of painting.
Daniela Flörsheim comes from a well-known Rhenish avant-garde artist family. Her determination to make art her profession and her life’s work as well is already clearly pronounced in her childhood days. Joseph Beuys takes her into his then already world-famous master class at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. In 1975 she graduates with honors as a master student. Her works are shown internationally: New York and Boston, Mumbai, Munich, Seoul, Santiago de Chile and the Dokumenta in Kassel are just some of the stations. She always goes on journeys of painterly discovery in the remaining nature reserves on all continents.
Making art, the essence, the desire for healing
The artist does not regard nature as a stage, a space of disposal or a depot of resources to be used in any kind of way. She sees it as something autonomous, as a dialogical counterpart, as an indispensable partner without alternative in a new world society in the 21st century. Partnership is the condition of a new coexistence under the aspect of the finiteness of our planet. Its rights and our duties must be rethought and negotiated. For the previous concept of a kind of Darwinian natural law in a world of paradisiacal abundance leads to disaster.
A new basis is the full recognition also of the non-human inhabitants of the earth, which she expresses in her painting.
In her painting, the artist makes animals and plants speak. In their distress, caused by man-made climate change, they must not go silently towards their final demise. They must be noticed and appreciated. Their right to integrity must be guaranteed, protected and enforceable. The artist demands this dialogue and documents it in her painterly-poetic way.
The inclusion of nature in an extended space of communication
Nature and its peoples, human and non-human, are to be given a voice. For Daniela Flörsheim, the climate crisis is a Western crisis of civilization and power that can only be solved through global dialogue. Only in the deep realization of the error of wanting to subjugate nature and its inhabitants, including plants, instead of being part of it, can a paradigm shift begin.
Nature as part of social sculpture
According to the art-theoretical concept of social sculpture coined by Joseph Beuys, the creative work processes of artists also include the claim to help shape society. Artistic action is no longer limited to an artifact as the final product, which is discussed merely according to aesthetic criteria. It also encompasses the human action thereby set in motion and its socio-political spheres of influence. Daniela Flörsheim does not accuse. Nevertheless, she insists on healing the nature destroyed by man. Her creative potential gives her the optimistic power of the possible.
Art as a diplomatic mediator between science and politics
Daniela Flörsheim’s method assigns art a diplomatic mediator role. This generates an emphatic view of our threatened world. However, the power systems of science, politics and economy, which are guided by interests, elude this view.
The artist extends her communicative actions (Jürgen Habermas) to non-human actors, the endangered animals and plants she portrays. Based on verifiable facts, it is only the magic of the imagination of a paradisiacal promise that motivates people to act correctly. This truthfulness is provided by art.
I become one with the animal and the color, the color and the animal
I become one with the animal and the color, the color and the animal. The artist describes her working processes: I pour and paint. It is a visual, even ritual activity. Even if I see something – and it is just mostly in nature or nature untamed – I like to trace it, almost gesturally and quickly with a pen or brush to feel ONE with what I see, to have an intense visual experience and capture this enthusiasm on paper. As a painter Daniela Flörsheim refers to her intuitive knowledge, to the knowledge of the nymphs. They are the guardians of a moving knowledge. Nymphs symbolize the essence of water as liquid, fleeting and changeable knowledge.
The way into the experience of nature is not the scientific knowledge
According to Friedrich Nietzsche, tragic knowledge is the way into the experience of nature: perhaps there is a realm of wisdom from which the logician is banished? Perhaps art is even a necessary correlative and supplement to science?
In the painterly interaction with nature, the artist leaves behind the political and scientific echo chambers. A journey into shamanic traditions and myths begins. Her perception of the world is not determined by a subject-object relationship. No observing subject classifies natural phenomena here and depicts them supposedly objectively or realistically.
Beauty is the greatest provocation of our epoch
The artist becomes ONE with nature in a partnership-symmetrical dialogue of reciprocity. She enters a wide field beyond the interpersonal into the beautiful. Beauty is the greatest provocation of our time. It is not calculable. It is the promise of the preservation of paradises thought lost.
No central perspective in paradise
With the invention of the central perspective, the compass and similar gadgets, the surveying of the world began. This also marked the beginning of its unprecedented subjugation, which is now reaching its supposed climax in the so-called Anthropocene with the invention of quantum computers: Soon, the exact location of every single ant can be determined. Today one experiments carelessly with the entire earth system without sufficiently precise scientific knowledge. The artist is aware of these developments. They lead to a dead end. They negate the complexity of the living. Daniela Flörsheim demands a planetary reasoning of the living, an anima (lat. soul). This includes:
Amazement, wonder, curiosity, empathy
The wandering gaze at all living beings in this world not to be located is her attempt to grasp the living. An intuitively positive worldliness opens the way to paradise: The meaning of life is life itself. So it also makes sense to give the non-human beings of the planet an audible, individual voice. The artist invites the viewer to follow her emphatic gaze in order to value, protect and preserve the anima, the animate being in every living being.