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Igor Sturmheit: deep down the color by Maya Ellenson

Paintings of Igor Sturmheit reveal foremost the fluid nature of art itself and the global shift in its development and perception. Inspired by Goethe’s and Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual theory of color, like his precursors, German expressionists of the turn of 20th century, Igor Sturmheit creates his own version of anthroposophy, filled with the immediacy of experience, derived from the immersion into the unknown and the chaotic, or right into the never-ending abyss of color.

Igor Sturmheit creates the art of mesmerizing undercurrents. One can hardly pin point his subject matter, ethereal and dancing like the moonlight. The visual syntax of his paintings is being woven from “stepping into the volcano and entering the cauldron” as he metaphorically put it. His artistic style does not fit in any established notions, like abstract and realistic, figurative and non-figurative art, for in Igor Sturmheit’s world is innately spiritual and the reality he portrays not only lies on the surface but emerges from the realm of color itself. In a way, Sturmheit’s paintings can be termed as born in color soulscapes.

As a part-time Psychophonetics Counselor and treasurer of the Anthroposophical Society in Johannesburg, South Africa, Igor Sturmheit articulates in his painting Steiner’s spiritual message by removing the veil of constructs and conceptual language from the art of painting whose true spirit was hijacked, one way or another, by various aesthetic creeds and manifestos, ending in “isms”. As he asserted in his interview to, “Anthroposophy is in a sense the life blood of my work. I am, through my work interacting with the sources of my inspiration. I experience an illumination of movement when the gaze of my eyes goes out and meets Colour. I feel something emerging out of the colour and I meet it. In this way I feel like I have had an experience of the being that resides within the colour. Rudolf Steiner’s astonishing body of work known as Anthroposophy is a great and beautiful gift to humanity that allows us to feel and understand the Soul’s life. In anthroposophy, there are numerous vast and yet simple initiation exercises that have the ability to awaken new faculties of perception that change the way we interact with the sensible world and ultimately allowing a healthy interaction with the supersensible realm”.

Igor Sturmheit creates a totally new form of pictorial discourse where the cosmic and spiritual are no longer the topics for musings but the breathing uninterrupted reality we all inhabit. The painter descends the stairs of the soul as simply and naturally as one enters the ocean without conceptualizing its chemistry, delivering a mystifying message of totality. “A stern being looks at me”, “Emerging from the darkness”, “Knowing and devotion” “A man with vision” and many other paintings suggest that the inner life has resurfaced and merged with the daylight we all face.

Even Kandinsky’s essay, “About Spiritual Nature of Art” (1912), which was largely sparked by Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on anthroposophy, lacked what the latter called “the living cognition” and “soul-life”. Meanwhile, it’s namely the abstract thoughts that for Steiner had no enlightening value. For him, color represents reality in itself, being “conjured from out of light and darkness by Angel-Beings who were messengers between the two”.
Contemplating Sturmheit’s translucent soulscapes of profound lyricism and unfathomable beauty, the viewer becomes the participant of the unfettered inner spectacle staged on the plane where colors enter into a spiritually dramatic dialogue among themselves and the spectator. In the beginning, it may appear somewhat bizarre and even startling. As Steiner wrote, “What manifests in color becomes a revelation of the realm of soul” – the space not everyone dares to enter. And the deeper we immerse into the cauldron of these interlaced uncanny pre-forms and dream-pervaded imagery, the more we realize that we are looking straight into the mirror at ourselves and it’s nothing to fear, for the images we see are strikingly lucid and intimate as we hear how the music of deep and somber undertones spirals up to light.
As his friend and colleague, the well-known contemporary artist and art historian, Cyril Coetzee stated, “Igor Sturmheit’s use of transparent color on paper is electrifying. In my view, his paintings, especially when they are large, could comfortably hand alongside the most notable of modern and contemporary artists in the spiritual tradition.”

Rudolf Steiner pointed out that “painting must acquire a color-perspective which overcomes space in a spiritual fashion”. This is exactly the effect Igor Sturmheit achieves by means of his unique painterly technique and artistic visions. Working inventively in mixed media, he interweaves light and darkness to create a universe of color with its galvanizing luminous flow of cosmic consciousness. As the artist poetically concluded his interview, “we are all artists, if we want to be. We need only practice, in the doing is the revelation”.

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