Christine Krämer

Ornament and Figures: The Secrets of the Visible

Works Bio
Christine Kraemer, ornament, painting, Busche

Please see the paintings of Christine Krämer in our exhibition “Constructivism, Mostly

what is this?

Christine Krämer explores the secrets of the visible, the depth of the surface. She designs dense abstract ornaments, explores the painterly possibilities of computer technology and brings to light what was previously hidden behind the mesh of the ornamental. The abstract is full of narrative content, the representational can be reduced to vivid fields of colour that the artist constructs with a small brush. What at times seems enigmatic to us, the viewers, is no less so to the artist: she herself is, as she says, occasionally surprised by what happens on the picture plane: What is this, how can I call it, express in words?


In the early 1990s Christine Krämer started working on a series of abstract works in the same format. The basis of these works is the ornament, an art form that reaches far back into human history. The earliest cultures in particular were inventive with this ornamental element, which usually originates from living, organic things, plants and animals. In ancient times acanthus leaves were just as popular a motif as the geometric form of the “running dog”. These ornaments are an animated world, there is something moving that wafts and works.

It was left to the modern artists to discard the ornamental. The Viennese Art Nouveau architect Adolf Loos, for instance, even spoke of ornament as a crime, and the Bauhaus radically continued this idea. But Loos’ contemporaries, such as Gustav Klimt, designed the most beautiful ornaments, and it was the women at the Bauhaus who kept this idea alive in the weaving workshop. A modern classic, Henri Matisse, is virtually synonymous with the ornamental. In the 1970s, finally, we had the decorative Pattern Art movement.

Christine Krämer Atelier 2015
Christine Krämer’s studio in 2015

In Christine Krämer’s ornamental works we find the old reference to nature, there are associations of arteries or landscapes, of animal and plant life, Birdland and Coral Sea are some of their titles. The motifs follow a strict order – which, however, is repeatedly broken: the power of the living cannot be constrained. It is not least the artist’s strong brush work that contributes to the vividness of these paintings, and their openness. As dense as these textures are, they are at the same time permeable, they are full of possibilities.


The Computations take the ornament into the digital age. In collaboration with the theoretical physicist Andreas Krämer, Christine Krämer has developed – on the basis of the computer program Ray Tracer – a system for producing an image, which gives her control over the details to be processed. At the same time, the computer has the freedom to make its own suggestions, so to speak.

What has always interested the artist is now evident here: she herself is curious about what happens in the process of making art, and she could be surprised by the result. The openness of her entire oeuvre is particularly emphasized, as is the processual aspect, the searching and finding. At the same time, the technical working process of the computer offers that reference to the concrete world that the artist always strives for. She sees these works as paintings and she praises the old-masterly quality of the Angel that we are presenting here.


In her most recent works Christine Krämer brings the figurative, which was hidden in the abstract-ornamental, to the fore. She opens the mesh and the previously hidden figures and plants emerge. The figures are mostly young female characters, and we can assume: they are the alter ego of the artist. The ornamental wickerwork now forms the background of the scenery or it takes on a life of its own as an object floating freely in space.

Christine Kraemer, Exhibition at Brotfabrik, Berlin 2019, ornament, Busche
Exhibition at Brotfabrik, Berlin 2019

It is a peaceful, balanced, albeit enigmatic world of calm, animated harmony. The plants blossom, bear fruit, and when faced with the young women one would like to think of “blossoming girls”. But this readable objectivity does not help much to clarify the content, it remains enigmatic. Although the pictorial space is narrow, worlds open up at the same time. But what kind of worlds are they? She is “not in this world” when she paints, says the artist, even asks: “How do I get out of here?” Ghost is the name of the most ambitious of the recent paintings, others bear the title Astronauts: these beings are beyond our reality and therefore have a good overview.

a painter at heart

“I am a painter at heart,” says Christine Krämer, and that applies also to her Computations. Her work is characterised by devotion, patience and serenity, by the tension of searching and the happiness of finding. Her inner concentration goes hand in hand with a strong outward orientation; as she says, she seeks full contact with the world. Her work as a whole tells a coherent story, from the secret life of the ornament, through the lure of the digital, to the liberated figure – which must, however, remain a secret again.

In Christine Krämer’s work the common antagonism between abstraction and figuration, manual and technical work is eliminated, it is all about – painting. About wonderfully modulated coloration, as in old frescos, and about applying paint to a surface. It’s about “grasping an image”, putting something new into the world and surprising oneself in the process: “Every picture is an adventure.”

Please see the paintings of Christine Krämer in our exhibitions Constructivism, Mostly, Landscape, so Beautiful! and Figures & Faces, Part 1. You might also want to see the artist’s profile on Artitious and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. And Please visit other artists in this gallery with similar works: Joanna Buchowska, Henri Haake, Janes Haid-Schmallenberg and Florian Pelka.



1959born in Copenhagen
1983-89studies Free Painting at Hochschule der Künste Berlin (HdK), Master degree
Lives in Berlin


1991Goldrausch – women artists project “Without compromise”
1992Grant for female artists from the Senator for Cultural Affairs, Berlin
1993Grant from the Senator for Cultural Affairs, Berlin
1997Grant Kunstfonds Bonn
1998Grant Kunstfonds Berlin

Exhibitions (S=Solo)

2020Weissenseer Kabinett Grande Finale, Brotfabrik, Berlin
6 aus 181, Galerie Oqbo, Berlin
2019The Blue Hour, Brotfabrik, Berlin (S)
Christine Krämer: Painting and Photography, Kunst im Westend, Berlin (S)
2018BBrandenburg Art Award, Schloss Neuhardenberg (Brandenburg)
Ene mene muh…, Bar Babette, Berlin
Horses, Photography, Asgabath, Turkmenistan (S)
2016Cross Section 1, Busche, Berlin
Ambilateral, Kunst im Schinkel-Bau, Altlangsow (S)
Oqbo Paperfile, Arthothek, München
1996Panoptik, Alt-Stralau, Berlin
1995Busche Galerie, Berlin (S)
1994Galerie Vincenz Sala, Berlin (S)
1993Kunst-Sprache, Kunstwerke, Berlin
1992What Humans Need, Bergmannstr.110, Berlin (catalogue)