Kretchmer’s paintings are born out of a love of history, nature, magic and colour. Realistic figures are blended into abstract settings, free from spacial limitations, lending the paintings an atmosphere of uncertainty and possibility. Figures may or may not have complete bodies, and often float in ambiguous space. Abstraction intermingles with representation, and the laws of physics are stretched.
Oil painting was not the artist’s original medium; prior to moving to Germany, her focus had been creating mixed media works composed of paper and paint mounted on canvas.
In 2010 she moved to Berlin to create art in the context of a global art city. Soon after setting up her new studio it became clear that the mixed media abstractions she had spent years creating in Chicago were not possible to recreate in Berlin due to differences in materials. After a year of failed attempts, she gave up the old, process-based work completely, and turned to oil paint.
Kretchmer’s first years in Europe were formative. She explored abandoned buildings, nightclubs, the countryside, palaces, cafes and castles. Filled with inspiration from these experiences, the impressions percolated in the artist’s mind and were then brought to life in Day-Glo colours on canvas – the demigods of parties long past, fairytales that never were, and histories that took place in an alternate dimension.
A sense of magic and whimsy was awakened, and in noticing the magic quietly embedded within the world around herself, Kretchmer endeavoured to tease it out and highlight it so that others could see the magic lurking in their own lives, just under the surface. This remains the fundamental premise of her work as she continues to explore these themes.
Kretchmer’s process is Jungian in nature. She often receives the idea for a painting in a flash of inspiration, and then commits it to paper as a sketch before it can be forgotten and lost forever. Through the painting process, necessary symbolic elements often surface, frequently with mystical themes. These are then further explored and expressed in the application of the paint.
In the artist’s most recent work, themes of magic are explored literally, with each piece inspired by a different ancient grimoire. They are visual ‘spells’, comprised of four simple elements: Something mundane, something extraordinary, something in transition, and something that represents a kind of break or change in reality, often represented by a gaping black hole from which the other elements spring.
Through her work, Kretchmer aims to awaken in others a sense of magic and whimsy, and invites viewers to engage with these alternate worlds, histories, fairytales and spells, and momentarily step outside of the mundane, into the metaphysical.
Mixed Media Collages
The passage of time and the perception of the past are explored in my process based mixed media collages.
Composed of paper and paint on canvas, the works are layered repeatedly to form strata of color and texture. Each layer comprises a unique painting unto itself, and in the act of repeatedly covering and painting over them I allow these compositions to be lost, sealed within the piece. Once a substantial number of layers have been built up, the surface is excavated to reveal portions of what lies buried within.
I am inspired by archeology and the way secrets from the distant past can be revealed through fragments buried deep within the earth. I am equally inspired by how the distant past is a perpetual mystery – we are never able to grasp the entire picture through the fragments we find, because the greater context has been lost.
Mirroring these ideas, I uncover small, intriguing glimpses of the deeper layers within my collages to give a sense for what is buried there, while allowing the greater portion to remain hidden. In this way, the old surfaces must be seen through the lens of the new.
Through these works I hope to engage the viewer with questions of what came before – to consider that which is visible, as well as that which is not.
After moving to Germany in 2010, I found I could no longer create mixed media pieces as I had in Chicago due to differences in materials. The paint either dried into a layer that crumbled away, or cemented the layers of paper into an impenetrable mass. And so, after a year of experimentation, I ultimately gave up on trying to continue on this track and made the decision to continue my studio practice with a focus on oil painting. As a result, my mixed media work is a kind of time capsule; a body of work that explores time, while also being locked in a very specific time.