Anke Röhrscheid

Selected works and exhibitions
2011 Drawing in Relation, DNA Galerie, Berlin
2012 Verführung & Extase, ATELIERFRANKFURT, curated by Prof. Jean Christophe Ammann, Frankfurt/M
2013 Drawing a Universe, Kai 10 Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf
2014 Komm und Sieh - von Kelterborn Collection, Museum of Modern Art Weserburg, Bremen
Phasmes, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
2015 Flights of the Mind, Cinque Garzoni Art Film Festival, Venedig, Italien
Artemovendo - Hidden Soul of the Inanimate, Goethe Institut Porto Alegre, Brasilien
Nightmare, Visual Arts Centre, Galerie McClure, Montreal, QC
2016 Phenomena in Space, DNA Galerie, Berlin
Grün, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/Main
Alptraum, RAE space for contemporary art, Berlin
2017 Coincedence & Reference, Museum Villa Seiz, Schwäbisch Gmünd
2018 #meinMuseum – 175 Jahre, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Metamorphoses, Goethe Institut, Paris
Breaking News – Sammlung von Kelterborn, Mönchehaus Museum, Goslar
Granulation, Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt/M
Sprengel Museum Hannover


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2011 | Drawing in Relation | DNA Galerie, Berlin

If we describe Anke Röhrscheid's work saying that this artist has perfected the technique of watercolor, we risk raising false expectations. Nothing could be further from these works than the bright, friendly and harmless world of watercolor painting. Her works combine in an unexpected and relatively singular way dense and compact surfaces with the delicate and disembodied world of the watercolor. The artist wishes to paint "in a lighter flow" than oil paints allow. Her interest in plant life, in forms that consist mostly of water, also suggests the watercolor technique. And the white of the underlying paper, which has its own quality, plays an important role too, for it is a light white, that can remain where it is and doesn't have to be additionally applied like oil paint. In numerous layers and with infinite attention, the artist molds metamorphoses and chimeras from phenomena of the living world: animals, plants and human bodies. It grows and thrives, bulges forth, expands, nature dances - it is not for no reason that dance and movement play a key role for Anke Röhrscheid, who herself used to dance ballet. "I perceive things through my body-stones, bodies, my environment", comments the artist.

Her works have in the past been compared with Romantic art, owing to their strong feel for nature, but to my mind they seem to have more in common with the ideas of Surrealism (which is of course also rooted in Romanticism). In the world of the Surrealists too, the boundaries between humans, animals and plants have been removed, especially in the work of Max Ernst, one of Anke Röhrscheid's favorite artists. "Art is perhaps the most visible return of the repressed consciousness", said Sigmund Freud, whose analyses of the human psyche the Surrealists are known to have referenced. We as observers experience precisely this form of border-crossing in the things going on in these pictures, however difficult they are to grasp - an insect on the skin, something closes up or opens, spiraling, entwined or twisted forms rise up and interlock, interwoven shapes repeatedly trigger associations in the observer. Yet fortunately everything remains suspended, undecided, undefined and only hinted at.

The observer also often associates underwater worlds with algae and deep-sea creatures. All that nature has to offer, its beauty, but also its horror and endangerment to life, can be found in Anke Röhrscheid's works. Some works look like something you might see through a microscope; molecules or DNA chains wind across the surface, yet exactly what it is eludes us and as such is fascinatingly open.

Another important element is color: the glowing, provocative red the artist uses, the bright pink or softer rose hue, some sometimes darkened into a mysterious reddish brown. Humans respond to color far more strongly than to shape. Anke Röhrscheid told me that she also admires Rembrandt a great deal, namely owing to the light on his figures. There is often very little light and the darker the picture, the more important it is what we can actually see. As under water - any diver will know the phenomenon. It is precisely Anke Röhrscheid's darker works that emit an internal glow, a kind of milky light that makes the contours soft and fluid. I truly know of no other artist today who produces such subtle effects. Despite the strong reference to nature, her work also contains a highly provocative element - it is no coincidence that the works also reference the body, skin, pink openings, which could be anything.

Röhrscheid's works are often small, yet they are always in themselves monumental, and incredibly the smallest ones in particular. Especially in her postcard-sized watercolors the unpent area plays a particularly large role (with forms protruding into the composition from the edge) and we as observers tend to complete the missing parts in our head. By deliberately cropping a motif the artist creates tension (incidentally a tool that has been around in particular since the dawn of the Modern Age, roughly since the Expressionist era in the early 20th century). It was artists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or Alexej von Jawlensky who stopped positioning their portrait or still-life motifs in the center of the canvas as was expected, but at the edges, and cropped their motifs to create more tension. This revolutionary method brought movement to painting; it is like a film scene, as we are more than used to today from advertising and the media. We could entitle a very special and relatively current series by Anke Röhrscheid "Almost nothing". It features small black works that particularly challenge us as observers. They are less eye-catching than her large, glowing red, often very allusive and erotic watercolors. Her small black works are more for aficionados; you have to get very close to them and really study them, which incidentally is a major problem today. For when viewing contemporary art, we increasingly tend to stroll past large works practically without pausing. What these works require is an exploration of sensations en miniature, for most of the artist's watercolors are mysterious and ambiguous. We can spend a great deal of time looking into this subtle, sometimes dark world of Anke Röhrscheid, a world of hybrids and composites, as in a dream.

Ingrid Pfeiffer


2012 | Verführung & Extase | Curated by Prof. Jean Christophe Ammann | ATELIERFRANKFURT, Frankfurt/M




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“I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw,

Or heard or felt came not but from myself;

And there I found myself more truly and more strange.” 1

Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955)


These black areas, their many layers immersing them in an impenetrable darkness, a velvety, breathing space. And then the fine brush, that glides through the many layers on the white handmade-paper base, magicking radiant beings. The observer cannot follow this painting process. He assumes Anke Röhrscheid has painted the forms in white on the watercolor’s rich dark background. Yet the opposite is true. Water permeates the jet-black space. It cleaves the darkness, which opens up with relish, reaches the white of the paper, which receives the light like morning dew. Both, the dark and the light, nestle close to the brush, meld with it, follow its path, avoid all resistance in order to each lend the sound their own melody. It is an intimate game, requiring the utmost concentration and tenderness. The dark, endless space engenders forms that diverge, cling to each other entwined, dance with each other, silently court each other, perform pirouettes. They are witches and elves, filaments and flourishes, spines and thorns. Most of these beings are in flight or floating, they appear, show themselves, are ebullient or shy, sometimes flare up in the blink of an eye, or are close to vanishing. Some of them have an anthropomorphic character. But that is not deliberate. The “narrative element” is rather a consequence of the action, of the mood in which the artist creates these small works.

Yes, this noiselessness, light years away, and then: the tangible closeness, informed by the material. This white, which is no longer white, because it has been exposed by the nocturnal layers. Stephen Crane (1871 – 1900) may have seen it thus:


“Walking in the sky,

A man in strange black garb

Encountered a radiant form.

Then his steps were eager;

Bowed he devoutly.

“My Lord,” said he.

But the spirit knew him not.” 2


As black as the cosmos is, as black as the man’s cloak is, as invisible as his face, his quick step and bow are, as inaudible as his voice is, this is how spectral the beings in Anke Röhrscheid’s works appear. There is nothing demonic about them; they are gentle, smooth, but can be unruly. If we were to meet them, like the man in Stephen Crane’s poem, they would not recognize us, because they are part of the darkness, like a memorial room that commemorates itself.

Anke Röhrscheid has paced out the cosmos. She has found the observers who bow to her works, let thoughts and associations play out and, wholly impartial, follow her radiant beings. It is poems that Anke Röhrscheid paints. Mystical inspirations. Shamanistic symbols, stirred up as though caught in an updraft, having found peace in ecstasy, suspended in rapturous elevation, hovering like common swifts.

There are works with red forms, meaning that the base color is red, covered by the black of night. The shapes can change their face, mutate into organisms, as though the depths from which they are molded are ablaze. The works are no larger than 9 x 15 cm. Wrapped in tissue paper, they can be taken on journeys.


Jean-Christophe Ammann


1 Wallace Stevens, “Tea at the Palaz of Hoon”

2 Stephen Crane, “The Black Riders”


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2012 | Drawing in Relation | Kai 10 Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf


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Small or very small elements are ordered in systematic rows or concatenate, interlink, condense into complex systems that habe their own laws. The focused, isolating view of tiny details stands alongside the overall view of numerous single elements that compose the ‘busy picture’. These surreal “univers in a nutshell” move beyond the familiar scale, oscillate between or with graphic presentations of physical processes.

Curator: Ludwig Seyfarth

At the same time, they are contemporary world landscapes in which the pull towards universal visivility becomes stronger and stronger. But the process that really determine world events play out on the other side of the perceptive possibilities of most people. The game with the limits of the visible corresponds to the reduction of physical weight. Almost everywhere there is “the light: the hanging, the floating, the imperceptibility of the visible reaches everywhere and transports the viewer into a zone that is not of optical but rather of tactile and musical sensibilities.” 1


1 Buci-Glucksmann (1997), S. 193

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2014 | Komm und Sieh – von Kelterborn Collection | Museum of Modern Art Weserburg, Bremen



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Anke Röhrscheid paints watercolors. She chooses to use this technique, though quite uncommon in contemporary art, for the special luminance of its colors. However, she avoids all of the airy and fluid aspects normally associated with watercolor painting. Instead of fast, casual sketches, she creates her saturated pieces in a painstaking and slow process. To this end she has developed her own, individual artistic technique. She begins by creating a monochrome surface in black or red by slowly coloring the laid paper layer by layer. “She then partially dissolves the upper layers with the tip of her brush until the lower layers of color and even the white of the paper start to reemerge. Herein lies the actual, very controlled process of creating the shapes that are later visible.” (Ludwig Seyfarth) Anke Röhrscheid creates the fantasy shapes out of the monochrome surface like a sculptor. They form odd, cloudy color formations of haphazard shapes and characters that congregate in a teeming dance of grotesque elements. They cannot be recognized from afar. Seen up close, they unfurl a bizarre diversity that cannot be grasped at a single glance.

The artist has been called a romantic – and even though she is skeptical about this classification, there do seem to be points of contact. Her organ-like inventions are reminiscent of the nocturnal, haunting air of Dark Romanticism, of the red droplets of water in Andersen’s fairytales, in which thousands of wonderful animals appear, jump about, tug on each other and eat each other under a magnifying glass. But Röhrscheid’s fantastic inventions also call to mind the romantic Arabesque, which Schelling describes as the concept of an artistic principle of creation based on endless metamorphosis: “I have thereby ... invented newly imagined creatures, which do not exist in this way, out of living shapes. These creatures do not exist in nature, not in our reality. I have literally created a distinct world with its own creatures.” (Anke Röhrscheid)




Guido Boulboullé


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Apperception, 3D Animation, 3:50 min, Edition 1/5 2 AP, 2013



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Anke Röhrscheid’s work sketches a morphology of ambiguous entities or creatures. On the one hand, the at times solitary, often entwined shapes can be read as abstract ornamental consolidations, on the other they may equally allude to plant forms or sexual organs. What springs to mind here are botanical illustrations or a microscopically tiny universe that has been enlarged many times over.

But how did this universe come into being? The visible shapes have not, as we may believe at first glance, been placed into a pre-existing environment or on a background. On the contrary, they reveal themselves as they are extracted or peeled out of the already existing layers of paint.
Strictly speaking, instead of differentiating between “shape” and “surrounding area” it would be preferable to perceive the surrounding area or background as the “shape” proper, for it generates those cohesive structures which are formed out of it.

That this is congruent with the artist’s own perception can be seen not least of all in the title she has chosen for this exhibition, which points to a fascinating paradoxical process of formation in nature. “Phasmes” is the French name for a species of insect to which French art historian Georges Didi-Huberman has devoted a brilliant short essay. The “Phasmida” or “Phasmatodea” are able to emulate other shapes, such as leaves or branches, with their anatomy in different ways. If visitors to a vivarium have difficulties making out the camouflaged snakes and other animals in between grass, branches and stones, to visually separate them from their surroundings, then Phasmida make this almost impossible as they themselves make up the environment in which we are trying to find them.

There is a second animal, which is also significant in relation to Anke Röhrscheid’s art and to which Didi-Huberman has devoted an entire book, titled “Survivance des lucioles”. Didi-Huberman illuminates the firefly’s shine from an aesthetic, political and philosophical viewpoint, countering it with the bright light of totalitarian regimes or proclamations of absolute truths. The firefly serves as a metaphor for all that is “provisional, empirical, intermittent, fragile, disparate and fleeting”. It is in particular on the small sheets of paper primed in black that Anke Röhrscheid’s figurations appear like fleeting fireflies, small shining dots in a dark night, sudden flashes that disappear into intangible space in the next moment. This fits with a general suggestion that Anke Röhrscheid’s paintings invoke: It seems as though they document something that only existed in this light or constellation for a moment. This gives her art work an implicit relation to time, which she has now started to illustrate explicitly.

The animated film “Apperception”, on show with Anke Röhrscheid’s works for the first time, presents to us a world of constant metamorphosis. Whether what we see is microscopically small or moves across the unfathomable depths of space remains as ambivalent as the nature of the objects appearing on the black ground and flying towards us in swarms like birds or airplanes, creating a vague feeling of threat. As is the case in the artist’s paintings, memories of the dream-like worlds of the symbolists and surrealists are conjured up here. In the first film by the artist, titled “Apperception”, these seem to merge with Science Fiction space utopias. It remains ambiguous whether we are being shown an interior or exterior world or whether the two are morphing into each other in a phasmid process of formation.



Ludwig Seyfarth


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Anke Röhrscheid | Vita
1965 born in Erfurt
1992 – 1998 Städel Academy of Fine Arts, Frankfurt, tutor: Hermann Nitsch
1998 Graduation as a master student under Hermann Nitsch lives and works in Frankfurt
Works in public exhibitions
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Sprengel Museum Hannover
Museum of Prints and Drawings, Berlin
Prints Collection, Städel Museum, Frankfurt/M
Hessisches Landmuseum, Darmstadt
Deutsche Bank Collection
Paribas Bank, Frankfurt/M
L-Bank-Staatsbank Baden-Württemberg
Department of Science and the Arts, Frankfurt/M
Hessen Ministry of Finance, Wiesbaden
Hessen Ministry for Science and Art, Wiesbaden
Henkel von Donnersmark Foundation, Berlin
Deutscher Wetterdienst Foundation, Offenbach/M
Rausch Collection, Frankfurt/M
Von Kelterborn Collection, Frankfurt/M
Reinhard und Sonja Ernst Collection, Wiesbaden
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
KAI 10 Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf
1998 Verein Freunde der Städelschule e.V
2001 Budapest stipend awarded by the City of Frankfurt
2005 Rudi Seitz Prize, City of Frankfurt
2008 Zonta Prize, Zonta Art Contemporary
2012 Dr. Rolf-Seisser-Prize
  Solo exhibitions | selection
2018 Granulation, Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt/M
2016 Phenomena in Space, DNA Galerie, Berlin
2014 phasmes, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
2012 Verführung & Extase, ATELIERFRANKFURT,
curated by Dr. Jean Christophe Ammann, Frankfurt/M (c.)
2009 Werkschau, Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach/M
transfer, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
2008 Fotografie – Aquarell, Kunstverein Leverkusen, Schloss Morsbroich
2007 Undercover, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
2005 Ivory Black, Karmeliterkloster, Frankfurt/M (c.)
2004 Innocent Nature, Pfefferwerk, Berlin
2003 Bright Red, Kunst im Dominikanerkloster, Frankfurt/M (c.)
2002 Werno Strobel Gallery, Mannheim
2001 Contemporary Art Gallery, Budapest

(c.) = catalogue.

  Group exhibitions | selection
2018 #meinMuseum – 175 Jahre, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Metamorphoses, Goethe Institut, Paris
Breaking News – von Kelterborn Collection, Mönchehaus Museum, Goslar
2017 Coincedence & Reference, Museum Villa Seiz, Schwäbisch Gmünd
2016 Grün, Galerie Martina Dettterer, Frankfurt/M
Alptraum, RAE space for contemporary art, Berlin
2015 Kleine Formate, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Nightmare, Visual Arts Centre, Galerie McClure, Montreal, QC
Wurzeln Weit Mehr Aufmerksamkeit Widmen, KVFM, Kunstverein Familie Montez e.V., Frankfurt/M Flights of
the Mind, Cinque Garzoni Art Film Festival, Venedig, Italien,
curated by Elke Kania und Ludwig Seyfarth
Artemovendo - Hidden Soul of the Inanimate, Goethe Institut Porto Alegre, Brasilien
Nightmare-Cauchemar, Visual Voice Gallery, Montreal, Canada
Alptraum, Salon de Lirio, Velim, Salcete
Wurzeln Weit Mehr Aufmerksamkeit Widmen, KVFM, Kunstverein Familie Montez e.V., Frankfurt/M
Nightmare, Visual Arts Centre, Galerie McClure, Montreal, QC
Artemovendo — The Hidden Soul of the Inanimate, Goethe-Institut Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre
Alptraum, Salon de Lirio, Goa
2014 gewünscht, geschenkt, gekauft, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt
Komm und Sieh – von Kelterborn Collection, Museum of Modern Art Weserburg, Bremen (c.)
Physis der Seele–Inszenierte Rituale, Hernann Nitsch Orlan Anke Röhrscheid,
curated by Dr. Danièle Perrier, Artspace Frankfurt- Dreieich (c.)
2013 Peanuts of joy, Kunstraum Dreieich, curated by Ludwig Seyfarth
Montez im Exil, Wanderausstellung der Kunstfamilie Montez, gezeigt in:
Nürnberg, Weimar, Leipzig Museum Lytke, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Berlin
Pophits und Alptraum, Artspace Rhein Main, Offenbach/M
Fundamental Ephemeris, Bronx Arspace, NYC
Lord Byron 2021, Embros Theatre, Athens
Blau, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Give me Five, Städel Museum, Frankfurt/M
Art Slam, Kunstverein Frankfurt, Frankfurt/M
Drawing at Universe, Kai 10 Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf (c.)
2012 Kleine Formate Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt
2012 Science & Fiction, A Laboratory of Drawing, curated by Sebastian Utzni,
Galerie Katz Contemporary, Zürich
2011 Another World–Eine andere Welt, Kunstraum Dreieich, curated by Ludwig Seyfarth
Drawing in Relation, DNA Galerie, Berlin
Limits and Desperate, Gail Schöntag Gallery, Sag Harbor, New York
Kleine Formate, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Monte Verita, Montez art organization, Frankfurt/M
2010 Kleine Formate, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Artist in Residence, Anniversary exhibition, curated by Peter Waiermeir, Atelier Frankfurt/M
2009 Kleine Formate, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Montez art organization, Frankfurt/M
2007 Kleine Formate, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Arnsberg art organization
2006 Lucie Beppler, Anke Röhrscheid, Elly Strik, curated by Dr. Jean-Christoph Ammann,
Palazzo Art Space Basel
VOKUHILA curated by Ludwig Seyfarth, Galerie Elly Brose-Eiermann, Dresden
Deck Gallery, Stuttgart
Summer in the City, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M
Amor Vincit Omnia curated by Dr. Dadja Altenburg-Kohl
Saarland gallery association- European Art Forum e.V., Berlin
Master drawings, Lang Gallery, Vienna
2004 Innocent Nature, Pfefferwerk, Berlin
2005 Kleine Formate, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M Cellular, Exhibition Space, Schulstraße 1A, Frankfurt/M Pathetischer Betrug, special art exhibition from Frankfurt catalogue Salon, Verlag, curated by Ludwig Seyfarth (c.)
2003 Klasse Hermann Nitsch, Exhibition Space, Schulstraße 1A, Frankfurt/M
2002 Natur und Zeit, Hanau Garden Party Art Show, Hanau, Winner
1989 Stuttgart 17.7.1956 - Salem Visconsin 3.3.1979, Portikus, Frankfurt/M
1994 Guest appearance with Hermann Nitsch, Prinzendorf castle

(c.) those which appear in the exhibition catalogue.



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© 1997—2017 Anke Röhrscheid
Artwork by ÐåUB Studiõ/ Bureau for Visual Affairs 2017