With an almost hallucinogenic quality of hyperrealism she delineates what she sees on the surface of things, and in doing so reveals something more profound and more unsettling about their essential qualities.
With this series of drawings, she looks at the thickness of glass, the way that it manipulates light the sense of how things glimpsed through glass might be manipulated and distorted by the substance itself. Also the impact of light on its surface, where glass begins to demonstrate the essential ambiguities of perception. – Deyan Sudjic
Showing her work in London for the fourth time, Scherffig has become known for her ability to concentrate deeply on the matter and form of her subject, to bring into the light – through the elemental process of mark-making its most fundamental and intrinsic qualities.
With small repeated monochrome marks, in chalk lead on slightly textured Arches paper, Scherffig patiently describes matter inch by inch; the hardness of the material itself industrial rubble, rusted steel, fractured glass transformed by the soft chalk lead marks into a muted, dreamlike image.
The 35 works exhibited represent a selection from a long series focused exclusively on the subject of glass: since 2009 Scherffig has completed more than fifty drawings of found industrial glass fragments, capturing an astonishing depth and variety of abstract aesthetic properties hidden in the fabric of this overlooked detritus. She shows glass as both defined by the light that passes through it, refracting and reflecting in myriad complexities, and yet distinguished by the individual imperfections and strata unique to each fragment. The microscopic intensity of her analysis results in images that evoke the play of light on water, fur, skin and cosmic vortices, but which evade any straightforward reading – the eye follows the light, but the subject is elusive and mysterious. Even the prosaic rhythms of wire mesh in reinforced glass become ethereal and profound in the sepia depths.
Elisabeth Scherffig was born in Düsseldorf in 1949, and has lived and worked in Milan since 1970. She has exhibited extensively in Europe, and her work is in private collections in the USA, UK and Europe.