Charlotte Eschenlohr: Flower Power
Charlotte Eschenlohr was born in Munich, studied business management and received her doctorate in commerce. She used to be an investment manager and consultant and built a good reputation in the business world. Unable to contain her love for the arts, Charlotte changed course and became a professional artist in 2002, and studied among other artists with the German artist, Markus Lupertz and the American artist, Donald Baechler. Currently Charlotte Eschenlohr lives and works in Munich, Beijing, and New York City. She runs her German studio in Munich. She also maintained a studio in New York City from 2004 until 2012. Since 2014 she has been working in her own studio in Beijing.
Because of her diverse backgrounds and identifications, Charlotte Eschenlohr's works break into the daily life of different cultures and demonstrate the contradictions of the global world. Demonstrating her interest in creating mix-media and collage artworks, most of Charlotte's works are two dimensional collage works that incorporate abstract painting and digital prints. Through the application of various expressive brushstrokes and photographs, her works can be regarded as a unique form of modern urban street art.¹ Identifying herself as an independent feminist artist with a cross-culture background, Charlotte includes in her works her perspectives with regard to the different societies in which she has lived. She applies co-existing materials and figures in her works, combined with subjective high contrast color strokes to depict her expression and opinion about the place of the female in modern society.²
Aesthetically, Charlotte's works are composed of numerous symbolic factors that present her awareness about the contemporary method of collage making. To be specific, she prefers to use exotic elements, especially oriental patterns and symbols, across all her creations. It was influenced by her life in her early childhood. Raised in a house fully decorated with ancient Chinese furniture and Japanese Ukiyoes, Charlotte was visually impacted by these mysterious oriental arts.³ Therefore, when she assumed the identity of an artist, she was persistently influenced by orientalism and primitivism in her aesthetic expressions. The influences of oriental culture have also inspired her concept building of the artworks. In recent years, Charlotte has focused on creating artworks that interpret the modern society of China, especially the discussion about feminism in current Chinese society.⁴
In her most recent series, Flower Power, a mixed media collage series created during 2017 to 2018, Charlotte created in total twenty-two pieces of collage works that contain oil paintings, photographs, acyclic paintings, digital arts, lightings, and installations. This series was created during Charlotte's residency in her Beijing studio. It emphasizes discussions regarding the idea about the power of the female in society, especially the modern definition of female beauty and the ideal female body. Flower, as a vital visual subject, was used as a symbol of the female spirit in this series. And Charlotte's idea of using flowers was inspired by two feminist artists: the American painter, Georgia O'Keeffe, and the German dancer, Pina Bausch. The aspect of flowers in their works deeply influences Charlotte's interpretation and reconstruction of flowers in her works.⁵ According to art history, flowers as an aesthetic presentation in artworks cannot be ignored. For most of the time, flowers symbolize the beauty, vitality, and sexuality that reflect the traditional view of the female in society. However, in Charlotte's works she tries to describe the identification of the female in today's society. She extends the idea of female beauty from a biological content to the sociological content that indicates the power of the female in different social aspects. As the gallerist, Mianbu, said, “Don't worry, beauty is always an eternal goal.”⁶ The idea of beauty is always the aim in Charlotte's works. What is unique here is the changing definition of beauty.
Visually, this series involves Charlotte's style. In her exhibition of collage paintings, photographs, and printmaking using an expressionist abstract method, Charlotte presents an impressive esthetic scene. Photography is an independent art medium. Each photo has its own meaning. The photos themselves tell the audience stories which are either complex or pure, either happy or distressed. When Charlotte created these photos, they resulted from her own mood at that moment. But, when she paints on these photos, there is a subtle impression about the art that occurs. It is the second creation involving art. Creating one story after another gives the original story a new appreciation. The female, the topic chosen by Charlotte, is a complex subject matter. Combining multiple layers into one scene creates the complexity of Charlotte's work.
Among these twenty-two impressive pieces of artworks, there is a particularly significant work, Anytime, created by Charlotte in 2017. This is a very early piece in her series. Anytime is a mix media collage work containing photographs, acyclic paintings, and texts that present a multiple-layer-artwork. Unlike most of her works, Charlotte does not use her stylized high contrast colors in this work; she uses most black and deep blue colors in this work to create a dark tone that impacts the audience’s mood. Due to the background of this work, Charlotte and her photographer Shao Hua photographed the urban landscape of the city of Beijing to represent the social context of modern China. In the center of the work, Charlotte creates the figures of flowers to represent her topic, the modern beauty of the female. Surrounding these abstract flower figures, there are three self-portraits of the artist herself and one male image at the side. Also, Charlotte paints two subjects together at the side of her works that can represent the female, such as high heels and logging. Overall, aesthetically this work makes a statement that the female, who is always recognized as a bright and fragile part of the society, is passively protected by the society. However, this protection is not something that the female wants, but it is a cage that prevents the appearance of the light of the female spirit. Moreover, Charlotte adds texts, “Charades,” “the rules,” and “ANYTIME,” on the top of the figure that is the last layer that she creates for this work. Referencing the graffiti art, which used to belong to gangsters, Charlotte writes a puzzle by adding these texts. She is questioning the way that society is defining the female, either beautiful toys or vital support in social development. In this work, Charlotte uses this complex collage to challenge the male gaze in society towards the female.
It is hard to imagine that this emotional and sensitive artist, Charlotte Eschenlohr, was a very objective successful businesswoman. Businesswoman and artists seem two jobs that are unrelated, but in her work she uses subjective presentation to express her logical and systematic analysis of the world.
¹ “The New Solo Exhibition by Artist Charlotte Eschenlohr-Thenew Opened in the XC. HuA Gallery Berlin on 2018.03.0,”Charlotte Eschenlohr, acceded accessed Sep 12, 2018, http://www.ces-art.com/thenewnew-2.php
² “Dragon Fly” German Female Artist Charlotte Eschenlohr,” Whitespace Gallery, accessed Sep 12, 2018, http://www.ces-art.com/dragon-fly.php
³ “West-to-East Divan,” Interview by Nicole BA and Heiko Klaas, accessed Sep 12, 2018, http://www.ces-art.com/west-oestlicher-divan.php
⁴ “Charlotte Eschenlohr, Strange Pureness,” Matthias Kuper Galleries Stuttgart, accessed Sep 12, 2018, http://www.ces-art.com/strange-pureness.php
⁵ “Artist Statement,” Charlotte Eschenlohr Art Work Catalogue, Flower Power, accessed Sep 12, 2018, published: 2018, Beijing
⁶ “Artist Statement,” Charlotte Eschenlohr Art Work Catalogue, Flower Power, accessed Sep 12, 2018, published: 2018, Beijing