The Rule of Three

There was a calm in the gallery room. The soft, still colours and beaming sunlight had a very peaceful effect on the gallery space at bauchhund salonlabor where the “Landschaft Stuhl Maria” exhibition is displaying the works of Bob Rutman. The artist is also known for his musical talent. Christoph Böhm, the gallery owner, tells me that Rutman is very loud as a musician but calm in his paintings and after listening to the music this is very clear.
Are you sitting comfortably?

The two sitting ladies draw my attention in the gallery. Are they big ladies, or are their heads just small? Either way they are naked and serene, sitting unselfconsciously and unaware that they are being viewed, or maybe unaware they are naked! It’s all very natural like the landscapes he paints. The exhibition doesn’t just appear on the walls of the gallery. Looking up I see the ceiling is acting as a floor for the wire table and chairs placed there under the advice of Rutman. This reminds me of the Twits or Mary Poppins, there is something playful about it.

The works in the gallery space differ to those down in the Jazz Keller. Down the narrow stairs the art is based more on Rutman’s sketches and drawings on paper and feels much more rustic. The sketches seem to match the cellar environment. A cellar isn’t generally for show and the sketches, although very skilled, are rougher than the smooth paintings above.

A religious art

Mr Böhm lets me into the church across the street which has become an extension of the gallery. The old church smell inclined me to expect old church art; instead the walls are covered with Rutman’s pieces. The series of paintings in here look at the life of Jesus from birth to death to resurrection. Although you would think the focus to be on Jesus I couldn’t help but feel it was actually on Maria (the Virgin Mary). As someone who isn’t religious I liked this focus on the mother’s trauma, a more personal loss which is easier to relate to. I also liked that she seemed to have a cheeky side in some of the images, especially when she has lost her shoe she looks almost seductive..surely not in church!?

bob rutman-church-landschaft-stuhl-maria-bauchhund-salonlabor-neukoelln
A fully naked Jesus led to controversy in the church! Photo: courtesy of Galerie Bauchhund Salonlabor

3 is the magic number

The title of the exhibition “Landschaft Stuhl Maria” became clear when entering the church. The 3rd of Rutman’s subjects was to be found here: Maria. The other two subjects that appear in his paintings are landscapes and chairs. I hadn’t realised I was looking at just 3 subjects and in three locations! Why these three subjects and why just three subjects? It seems things often come in threes, especially in religion: the holy trinity, heaven, hell and purgatory, even the three wise men. Is the rule of three the key to Rutman’s art? As I thought about this I made my way toward Richardplatz to find some food for thought!

  • bauchhund salonlabor “Landschaft Stuhl Maria” Bob Rutman, Thu: 7pm – 10pm or by appointment