Everything lost is meant to be found
Everything lost is meant to be found is both a message and a promise – especially in view of the present times. What is imagined or purported is the idea of times being restorable, which goes hand in hand with the notion of healing, reconciliation and harmony. It is useful to know that the title is a quote from the 2003 action film Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life – so the phrase can be understood less as an apodictic statement than as a hypothesis to be dealt with in a playful manner. Following this line of thought, the act of painting would assume the status of assessing the hypothesis and the artist the role of a scientist checking the viability of his theory based on what is given and tangible, and changing it, if necessary, so as to make it concrete.
The exhibited watercolors, “found objects” in the sense of the title, are characterized by an almost dream-like balance and the certainty of a hidden truth content inherent in the images. The picture printed on the invitation cards bearing the programmatic title Leuchte (Beacon) appears like the starting point of an expedition: against the background of a brick-like architecture, one can discern the iconic rendering of a boat and an oil lamp, which in turn takes on the shape of a burning torch. According to the original meaning of the word, the ship – just like an oil lamp or a magic lamp – is a vessel. The vessel bears an invisible content that is in most cases more essential than the vessel itself. As a man-made construction, the ship possesses the meaning of a system or method: the methodical elaboration follows the mental one. Berthold Reiß’ watercolors also appear constructed. There is no room here for pretentious painterly gestures.
The idea that everything lost is meant to be found can be detected not only in the motifs themselves, but also in the image sources: contrary to what one might assume, the templates are not traditional, canonized models, but drawn from the mundane world, for example, logos of consumer goods. They may contain notions of classical antiquity, but are rarely used in a deliberate fashion. In Berthold Reiß’ work, where the cited icons appear without the context of daily life, they subvert their original function of unambiguous comprehensibility and turn into flip-flop images in which a motif usually allows several possible interpretations. This gradual openness of the picture motifs underpins the interpretation of the hypothesis Everything lost is meant to be found as a playful experiment that leaves room for many directions of thought. Hence, the watercolors, in which layers of earlier color applications shimmer through like pasts, verify the initial hypothesis. Painting pictures is the ongoing assurance of the possibility of this hypothesis.