Haven't we long forgotten what is the power and magic of women?

Do we 'know' (in the sense of a heart knowledge) what determines women in their nature as women?

In her goddess cycle, the painter Stephanie Nückel focuses on this question in her oeuvre.

Subtle and analytical, and with her inimitable power of intuition, she goes into far-off, undeveloped territory - far from the sleepy mainstream of a constantly eloquent discourse about women, who only misses her permanently.

The actually feminine - according to the painter - is usually smoothed and functionalized in a utilitarian manner. It is all the more passionate that she has set herself the task of resurrecting a lost empire in her pictures and making it quake in its glowing substance.



Stephanie Nückel's goddesses celebrate a festival that makes hearing and seeing pass, and blazing open doors to forgotten notions.

For example Lilith: like a wind spirit of the night, she appears unspeakably graceful, surrounded by an aura of nocturnal, occult aloofness. As if a flash of lightning flashed through the picture, an untamed panther appears behind her. Does Lilith smile in the midst of her beautiful uncanny or her uncanny beauty - or isn't that smile already on the verge of bare teeth? The pure eroticism that flows through Nückel's Lilith paintings brings the viewer back to the forgotten pulse of primeval forces:

The female, as the painter tells us in her Lilith painting, is archaic. It participates in natural powers, in life-protecting, parturient and destructive energies.

It is no wonder that the moon lights up both on the Lilith painting and on several other goddess pictures by Stephanie Nückel, because the primordial force of the feminine is cyclical. It circles with the moon, day and night and maintains a mute correspondence with the rhythmic palpitation of the heart as the source of all life.

In the painting of the Hekate, the green circle of witches forms the frame of reference that the goddess holds in front of her in a dancing, enticing and threatening manner. Hekate the border crosser, the guardian of the gates between the worlds, shows herself to the viewer as if she were wearing an evil mask. No smile, no charm, no desire to please - in the face of the Hekate culminates a force that could scorch your skin, hair and heart with a single breath, if you didn't take life completely, you would be too close. Where the goddess walks along, doors obviously open - that's what the background of the picture tells, but which doors? Is it thresholds to Hades or to an unprecedented, immeasurable freedom through which light and breath flow? Which way does Hekate light up with the burning torch in hand? Within the spell of Hekate, the painter lets death and destructive power, life-hungry Eros and luminous freedom plunge into each other like two streams that are inseparable.



The female, who is too often degraded to a harmless facade in our everyday world, is particularly appealing to witch laughter in the hecate painting. According to the goddess, together with Lakshmi, Inana, Abundantia, Ereshkigal, Artemis, Lilith and Sekhmet, laughs at the guilty and shame-laden female cliché that the woman has bowed under the yoke of self-denial for millennia. The circumcised and disciplined femininity, which groans and groans under her yoke and wastes her best strength, stands as a silent cry in a secret correspondence to the unleashed and boundless power of the goddesses: dirty, loud, sneering, vulgar, delighted, destructive, hate - and full of love, in a dimension of infinite depth - this is how Stephanie Nückel's goddesses conjure up the repressed side of the demure Madonna, without whom she can never become a goddess herself, but always only a compliant andobedient God-bearer.


A very different feminine energy confronts us with Abundantia and Lakshmi: Abundantia, the promise of happiness that draws from the abundance of life, who easily wastes her inner wealth like a child and with her laughing inspiration everything around her Life and lust infected. Lakshmi, the great lover, the giver, whose face is overshadowed by a bright lotus flower, seems similarly blissful to us. The lotus is rooted in the mud, in the abyss, in the dirt. But Lakshmi as the earth goddess transforms the mud into fragrance and life from the painter's point of view. It turns the heaviness in the blink of an eye in lightness and beauty.


In her cycle, Stephanie Nückel deliberately lures different goddesses across cultures to her painting grounds - from the Sanskrit, the Greek, the Roman, and from the Babylonian context - since she is concerned with something universal: the magic and the feast of femininity that focuses on no religious or cultural system can be reduced, on the contrary: the power of femininity has flooded and blown up any system from the outset. The painter's cycle of goddesses rather raises the opposite question: isn't the female one of the decisive conditions of the cultural and religious?


If the \"divine\" and sublime power of women is already negated and as universally negated and as universally as it is celebrated in the female deities, Stephanie Nückel at least illuminates this path with the brush as her burning torch in her hand: The secret knowledge about the woman is lifted and preserved – if far too often not in real life, then at least in myth. And the myth of the goddesses is brought to life by the painter – herself a magician – and resurrects him so that he may carry his self-confident and self-confident glow into the world and unfold his liberating and healing power.

Dr. phil. Jutta Czapski, art historian, cultural scientist| Berlin Summer 2018




It's hard to dodge them. To the eyes of Alba, Christal, Damina and all the other women who all have one thing in common: they are beautiful. Beautiful in the classical sense, according to the ideal type: fine, symmetrical facial features, even skin and large eyes. And so they captivate us, who grasps our concentration as if it were a suction. In \"Above\" it is a pair of eyes that looks directly at us from the middle of the picture. The extraordinary perspective frees us from the impression of a real image space – as if the face comes to us from the green environment. Arms and the exhilarating lines of the dress indicate a rotational movement – in the imagination we can imagine it turning around its own axis, like a hypnotic spiral that takes us into a pulsating flow of time in which there is no beginning and no end Are.


The women seem strangely familiar. Somewhere at some point have we seen them? In fact, Stephanie Nückel draws on current advertising faces, as we find them printed daily in various print media and on the television screens smiling at us. Their presence in the world of advertising is usually homogeneous. Always reflecting the usual female gender role stereotypes, they gracefully and with youthful freshness praise the most diverse products. In the staging of more appearance than being, the advertising person becomes a profane saint. And by the way, a view of the world with its many forms of life is also excluded.



Stephanie Nückel questions this one-sided perspective on the image of the woman, in which she counteracts the emptiness of the models and brings the beautiful to life. With painterly, expressive brush strokes, she gives the figures an independent presence, gives them an existence that is no longer aimed at a purely flawless and perfect shine. Less object - more subject; Less characterless - more individual; less pleasing - more self-sufficient ... but after all changes they are one thing above all: unapproachable. Even more - the bright, cool colors make them appear to us viewers with an icy hint of rejection.


Sensual and menacing seducers lurk in Stephanie Nückel's pictures at different locations and in different poses. 'And the woman always attracts' - whether in the forest or in the salon.


The question also arises whether their appeal as advertising icons only affects men and not women as well? Because the desire to be seduced by such a woman can, as it were, be accompanied by the dream of being beautiful and powerful yourself. To be like you once: to have influence on our counterpart ... that is probably a fantasy that many dominate now and then.

In free interpretation, Stephanie Nückel takes up the figure of the sorceress Circe, whom Odysseus and his men encounter on her long journey Homer's poetry on the island of Aiaia. In sumptuous chairs and with delicious dishes, she received Odysseus' followers with supposedly hospitable warmth. But as soon as they had eaten, the men were turned into pigs by her. Perhaps Odysseus would have fallen for the mighty sorceress if the level-headed Eurylochos had not suspected something bad and had distanced herself from Circe's seduction skills. But what role has Stephanie Nückel intended for us viewers?


And with that I come back to the beginning of my speech: maybe you too can save yourself... But save what? Stephanie Nückel calls for the questioning of our own position. Do we fully get into the action on the screen or look like it from the outside? Let's be deceived or do we see the seduction game? With painterly means she deconstructs the image of the beautiful but object-like representation of the woman and thus shows a different, wild and erotic side of her self. This diversity of femininity (\"other\" because \"rarely shown\") breaks and unmasks conventional views, but it also unsettles: Are these circen our allies or our opponents? With a certain distance from which Eurylochos could also see the impending danger, we have a way to save ourselves from the destructive downside of the beautiful glow. Then we may, in the words of Stephanie Nückel, recognize the fears and \"needs (...) are not necessarily ours, (...) attitudes and behaviours that are not conducive to us.\"

Excerpts from the eulogy of Meike Su on the exhibition 'Save Yourself Who Can - Circen and Others
Magic!'  by Stephanie Nückel at the Kunstverein Achim 29.5.2016

Save yourself who can!

Has he ever met them, the unknown in a bunny costume....? The one who – sweetly smiling or grotesquely grinning – pretends to be a funny journeyman to have fun in the supermarket, at children's parties or wherever children? \"That's just the Easter bunny, all good! There is no reason to cry! Laugh rather, ... let's go, now laugh!\"

By chance, the painter Stephanie Nückel came across photos of this special, American kind of children's pleasure during an internet search and immediately noticed the madness of the situations:
\"The subject of my picture cycle is the fundamental misunderstanding. One has an idea of what might be good for the other and helps him over,\" she explains. \"He passes powerfully over the other. And probably unintentionally in the best faith to make the other a joy.\" The madness goes far beyond the rabbit game. The unknown in the bunny costume with the disturbed child seems more like a hollow mirror, in which something fundamental and invisible becomes concrete: \"Lovely meant violence\", is for the painter the thematic center of her picture cycle. It addresses a sly, subtle form of violence that always comes in disguise, with a friendly facade. This usually makes it impossible to recognize her in time, let alone to escape it. Stephanie Nückel reveals a socially highly explosive topic in this cycle. She opens the pandorra's box and tears the camouflage facade with its colors and brushes from a ubiquitous madness by painting his veil , so it is doubly veiled.

But it is precisely through this that it shows the actually grotesqueness of the scenery: the perversion that has been turned into the sweet and playful, the power play, the far-reaching abuse. It lies in the corruption of the freedom of the other: the other becomes part of one's own machinations, of one's own system. The unmistakable other of the other, his uniqueness and his own neediness are not perceived.


IIn Stephanie Nückel's formations, the silent gaze of the children becomes a talking counterpart, an ohn-powerful resistance. Only the view disturbs the game and makes it run into the void. Who is the unknown in the bunny costume and who is the child? Am I it or are you?

Where does the unrecognized spectre of the hare go? In the social lypublic sphere or even in the most private sphere, relations? \"Everywhere,\" says the painter, \"you come across his trail. Permanently, someone thinks they know what's good for another, overwhelms them and overwhelms them with it.\" It is significant that it is impossible to know who is hiding under the hare costume at all. This is not a face-to-face relationship based on mutual respect. One of them hides his face and lets his counterpart fall in the dark, which underlines the power gap.

Some bunny masks, it seems, make the tricky harmless tip over, and reveal rather something about the motives of the hidden person. In the painter's cycle of images, the violent play is varied: sometimes it seems rather unintentional and unconscious, sometimes the desire for violence appears quite consciously – but always camouflaged.

Stephanie Nückel interprets the respective scenarios by designing the backgrounds and comments on them: \"I wondered what the colors of madness are,\" says the painter \"In some pictures, the background is poppy sweet and sticky. It's reminiscent of American sweets, cotton candy and Easter eggs.\" In other paintings, this trivial atmosphere breaks open, and something brownish muddling enters the picture as if it can no longer be held back. In another painting, what constitutes our reality dissolves: time and space. The ground falters and dark figures emerge. The poppy facade has fallen completely away on a painting on which only a rabbit can be seen – without a child. The painter shows him in his own uncannyness and loss, breaking the cliché of good and evil, victims and perpetrators: in this picture, the hare becomes his own victim.

As the culmination point of the cycle, he confronts the viewer challengingly and enters into a silent dialogue with him.

M.A. Jutta Czapski, art historian, cultural scientist

Berlin, January 2015



'The Existence is elsewhere'
(Andre Breton)

'I am a permeable person and draw from what concerns me'
(Stephanie Nückel)

Every time I get to travel, when I stand in front of the pictures of the painter Stephanie Nückel.







I would like to throw everything away, here and now, and leave immediately. Where? No idea. As is well known, pictures do not speak, but Stephanie Nückel's pictures still call. Silently and wildly they challenge me - 'get up, come, enter the remote paths, the unknown country.'

The call that grabs the viewer with one hand and remains invisible and distant at the same time is the transformed energy from which Stephanie Nückel's pictures are created.

She describes her art as entirely existential and says that she is not looking for her subjects - on the contrary: the subjects concern her, impose itself on her, and by depicting her, she imposes her consciousness. The approach is to be understood quite literally: Martin Heidegger pointed out at the time that we are only really concerned with something that literally concerned us beforehand.

That is exactly what is disturbing and unique about Stephanie Nückel's painting: her open touch for everything that really concerns her and imposes on her. A sphinx-like existence riddle unfolds when the viewer looks at her pictures, because the painter explores the boundaries: once she goes on the night side of existence thrown into the world and paints it in its loneliness and homelessness, its destructive power and its dark magic. Then the clouds clear up again, time slows down. Stephanie Nückel's figures seem to linger and wait - for what? One does not know. In the next moment they present themselves covered, masked - and therefore reveal themselves, reveal themselves as permanent seekers for their own self, of which they are never sure. As ephemeral shadow creatures, they slip into different roles, sometimes like on a stage, sometimes in secret, which the painter can see.


Stephanie Nückel's pictures therefore have the power to urge the viewer because they are painted with passion, out of urgency.

The subject of her art corresponds to the design process. When Stephanie Nückel paints, the intuition that is very close to the dream language takes over:

Sometimes female figures wade through an impassable moor Irrlichter, 2009), sometimes a rider tames an ugly, wild animal (Riding the Beast, 2013), and then again, overflowing with lust and desire - a satyr (Faun 2011) presents himself.

'Existence is elsewhere' once said André Breton the fact that beyond our everyday evident life there are completely different back and underworlds. The Surrealists thought they were the real home of existential life and, as is well known, went programmatically in search of the lava sources of existence.


Stephanie Nückel's painting does not follow a program, nothing turns into a project for her, the path is not predetermined: 'I am always on the go, always on the lookout,' she says.

Life and art are inextricably linked for the painter. This is reflected in her painting, which therefore appears like a permanent process of renewal, without getting stuck or ever losing its freshness and explosiveness.

Far from being a navel show, Stephanie Nückel's art always reacts to her environment, to the others she encounters, but also to political moods that affect her:

In the three-part cycle 'for faith you pay, for love you pay, for hope you pay (2012)', she cynically turns the famous Old Testament belief from Paul's letter upside down. The cycle is her political statement regarding the situation of Berlin artists, most of whom are fighting hard for existence.

It is striking that her art - despite all the breadth of the topics - condenses again and again into a concentric circle: the riddle of the female. The painter breaks with Cliches and does away with typical female role expectations. What really interests her is the unleashed and liberated power of female eroticism in all its forms.

You can't get rid of the impression that Stephanie Nückel herself is fighting a liberation struggle and continually removes the layers of culturally traditional with which she plays with challenges at the same time.

In all openness and permeability, Stephanie Nückel's pictures pursue a vision: 'I am always on the lookout for beauty,' describes what drives her constantly.

Even if it has long been a consensus of aesthetics that it is impossible to know what is beautiful, it has always been up to the artist to develop hunches and find the trace of the beautiful.

For Stephanie Nückel, beauty is also ugly, it has depth, it exposes itself.


And always - so it seems in her art - it comes with pride, or rather with the dignity of a lost royal child:

The women and men, fauns and furies, princesses and elves, magicians and mask wearers of their pictures roam about in windy gold and call for a start and revolt. If it is at all possible to formulate something like a message of her art, it could be in a memory, namely memory in the very literal sense: Whoever engages with the art of Stephanie Nückel comes in a completely new way in contact with your own inner life, with the quiet, barely perceived or half-forgotten forebodings that change to the desire to travel when you see their pictures.

When I leave I suddenly realize that I have also seen a lot of food, namely the feeling of being accepted in her work, especially in the rough and torn terrain of my paths.

 (M.A. Jutta Czapski, cultural scientist, doctoral student in aesthetics, Humboldt University Berlin)