Christa Sommerer

Phyllologia, 1991

The sculpture shows a kind of dividing screen with three large leafsilhouettes which have been punched out. On the one hand we have the object with its boldly-coloured surfaces in forced contrast with the environment whilst, on the other, it clearly sports referential characteristics due to the repertoire of shapes applied. The explicit context in a park is due to the frame forms, through which the landscape behind can be seen despite the coloured barrier. Thus, a reference grid is activated, determining the visual experience as a comparative act in this both alien and site-specific intervention.  


At the time of the creation of her work, Christa Sommer, a biologist, was fascinated by Carl von Linné’s systematics of plants. And it was not only the scientific meaning thereof, but also the question of the extent to which, through conventionalising of forms, their degree of reality is changed too, whether this is through them losing their individual character or pushing their special characteristics right into the foreground.

In this respect “Phyllologia”, a kind of paravent with three large leave shapes cut out, has a special meaning due to its peculiar position in nature. On one hand, the boldly coloured object, contrasts forcedly with the environment; on the other, it presents a clearly referential character due to the repertoire of forms used.


With its reduction to three examples, and supported by the colour of the carrier sheet, a clear signal is set. With the translation of the basic material, of the artificially created drawn form, we witness a change of meaning on several different levels. First of all with the transfer into a negative, and then with the shift of scale, focusing on the phenomenon of a change thereof.


The creation of a decided context in a park is due to the frame forms which, despite the coloured barrier, allow for a view onto the landscape behind. Due to the fact that the three sections show in principle the very same figure as the thousands of barely recognisable “figures” in the woods behind, we consciously or subconsciously activate a referential grid, determining the visual experience as a comparative act in this both alien and site-specific intervention.

Author: Werner Fenz 
Plan & Overview: Position 20
Owner: [Province of Upper Austria]
Biography: Christa Sommerer 

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