By Ann Wiliams
Kerstin Roolfs, a German-American artist, has adeptly forged a distinctive artistic niche that explores the realms of portraiture, sports, history, and politics. Her creations often take the form of text, drawing inspiration from influential figures such as Plato, Goethe, Sloterdijk, Hölderlin, and Adonis. Spanning from Berlin to the vibrant hubs of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, NY, Roolfs’ artistic journey has encompassed continents, embodying her creative pursuits.
Her intriguing portfolio has been showcased not only in solo exhibitions but also as a part of numerous group exhibitions in diverse locations like the US, Canada, Russia, and Europe. Of particular note are the two museum exhibitions in Germany that have amplified her artistic voice. These exhibitions are testaments to Roolfs’ ability to connect with a global audience, transcending geographical boundaries through her compelling visual narratives.
A glimpse into her works reveals a profound depth of thought and a nuanced approach to storytelling. In her piece titled “Renewable Energy,” exhibited on 7 August 2022, Roolfs demonstrates her prowess in intertwining symbolism with aesthetic appeal. The work, spanning 12 x 12 inches, uses watercolor and Sumi ink on handmade recycled paper to convey a message as timeless as the sun itself. This piece is destined for the traveling group exhibition “Renewable Energy,” curated by Jutta Wiegert in Hamburg, Germany. The exhibition, set to journey through Potsdam/Berlin, Erfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, and Brussels in the following year, will undoubtedly provide a platform for Roolfs’ creation to resonate with audiences far and wide.
The essence of “Renewable Energy” lies in its visual representation of the sun’s life-giving radiance. Through warm shades of yellow and orange, Roolfs masterfully invokes the sensation of sunlight, connecting it to the vitality it bestows upon humanity and nature alike. The dual figures and the plant, etched in black Japanese Sumi ink, drink from the metaphorical wellspring of life, embodied by the handmade recycled paper. In this vivid tapestry, the green and blue circles symbolize the oxygen produced by plants—an essential elixir for both humans and animals. Roolfs’ creation beautifully encapsulates the symbiotic relationship between man and nature, emphasizing the interconnectedness and interdependence that underpins existence. The sun, portrayed as a beacon of life, underscores the inherent reliance of humankind on the natural world.
In another striking piece, “The Never Ending Dream 2022/23,” measuring an expansive 73 x 86 inches, Roolfs shifts her focus to a more introspective realm. This artwork, brought to life using charcoal, acrylic, and gouache on canvas, introduces us to a woman intricately linked with her surroundings. As she grapples with internal conflicts and the tumultuous nature of the world around her, she finds herself in a state of self-reliance and self-preservation. Unlike the previous work, where nourishment flowed from external sources like the sun, here the protagonist draws strength from her own resilience, mirroring the artist’s exploration of human adaptability in the face of chaos.
Kerstin Roolfs’ artistic endeavors go beyond mere aesthetics; they invite contemplation and introspection. With humility and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Roolfs has managed to capture the delicate balance between human existence and the environment that sustains it. Her ability to weave complex narratives into visual art is a testament to her intellectual depth and artistic acumen.
As an artist who has traversed continents and perspectives, Kerstin Roolfs has established herself as a noteworthy voice in the contemporary art scene. Through her intricate compositions and thought-provoking themes, she provokes a dialogue on the intricate relationship between humanity, nature, and the overarching cosmos. With exhibitions on the horizon, it is evident that Roolfs’ artistic journey is far from complete, promising further insights and revelations that will undoubtedly captivate art enthusiasts and casual observers alike.