About the Artist

Michael Kröger

Sylvia Catharina Hess: „Served Up“

Opening adress to the same named exhibition in the Galerie Avenida 17, Tazacorte, La Palma

Today we present to you the German artist Sylvia Catharina Hess for the second time and we do that for a very good reason, namely that she is a very versatile painter. She surprises us again and again with new and different motives and still stays true to her style. After the last exhibition themed "Canary Songbook" we now show you pictures from the series "Served Up".

We now witness pictures which simply had to be painted - to use her own words. "Served Up" has a dual meaning: in a real and literal sense like for example a still life with fruit and vegetables on a table, however "served up" could also mean to serve up, i.e. to tell a story to someone which may or may not be true

There are stories behind many of Sylvia's pictures: literary or mythological stories, personally experienced or fantasized stories ... always painted with or after an intensive intellectual reflection of the respective topic. She finds it important to give the viewers an idea of her original motive but she does not want to force them into her conceptual world but rather wants to leave some room and time for the viewers to develop their own associations and interpretations. Hence the pictures can develop a life of their own in a dialogue with the viewer. The original story is therefore only the starting point for a journey into the viewer's fantasy and an entry into an adequate imagery created by the artist. As an example I want to describe the origin of this picture (No gift for Derketó): The starting point is an old Syriac-Phoenician saga about the river and water goddess Derketó. She falls in love with a man, becomes pregnant and gives birth to a girl, the later founder of Babylon. Derketó kills her lover and abandons the child in a rocky wasteland. Then she transforms into a water nymph which is why fish were regarded holy and could not be eaten in her people.

With these comments I now release you into the artistic and intellectual world of an artist who certainly operates in the Here and Now. Ask her about the origins of her pictures, about her thinking and development but leave yourself to your fantasy nonetheless.

For your guidance I want to add that there are sketches in the light shaft which served as a preliminary stage for the big canvasses and are also for sale. We would be pleased if you sign the the guest book which is ready over there.

Tazacorte, January 26, 2018

Michael Kröger, Avenida 17 – Ort der schönen Künste, Tazacorte, La Palma

Speech for Sylvia Catharina Hess

Today we present you a painter who uses a very different style in quite a contrast to the last two featured artists. While Peter Hermans and Acenk Guerra separate the individual colours sharply, Sylvia Catharina Hess uses layers of colours or forces them into each other. Still the artists share many common features. All three of them pick up landscapes and sensual impressions, move them to the subconscious and then paint their pictures from memories and fantasy. However, they do it in very different ways:

During painting Sylvia traces - as she calls it - her inner picture worlds and transforms those into soul landscapes which are then processed in her pictures. In the process new picture worlds are created which have nothing to do with the original real image or landscape. Thus the newly created paintings are not true depictions of an actual landscape or a real impression but rather represent a trip into the artist's inner world leaving much room for fantasy. Such pictures come from an earlier period of Sylvia's work and you will find them in the light well.

Right now we can admire a changed and advanced artist Sylvia Hess: her new picture cycle "My Canarian Songbook", which is still in progress, originates in her relatively new life in La Palma, her encounters with the fun-loving people and their many various festivities. She begins with sketches or photos taken during or shortly after a fiesta. The sketches or photos taken on location are then transferred into drawings which are finally used to paint the actual picture in a third step. As an example for this working procedure we show you the drawings from the last Almond Blossom Festival in Puntagorda on the righthand wall. Following Sylvia's original modus operandi again no depiction of reality is created and no portrait painting. Real persons are changed in the painting process, real and imagined figures appear or disappear and in the end the painting only represents the feeling of the painter during the original event but has nothing to do with the original images. At this point Sylvia realises the danger of a lapse into folklore, naive painting or even kitsch painting. Like it happened in many a picture from the white carnival in Santa Cruz by other artists. Realising this danger, Sylvia avoids a central perspective, real buildings, parts of real buildings or actual beach furniture and disassociates the figures using collage elements. Here on the righthand side we have arranged a third group of pictures, some nude acts which were also painted quite recently.

So much for the introduction into this exposition, have a nice time viewing, enjoying and grappling with the pictures and the painter. This is big art in a small room, another beautiful exhibition here with us in the Avenida 17 and another step to make Tazacorte the art capital of the island.

January 21, 2016

La Palma Künstler: Die Malerin Sylvia Catharina Hess

„Der Mensch steht im Mittelpunkt meiner künstlerischen Auseinandersetzung“

Sylvia Catharina Hess schreibt Erzählungen, Kurzgeschichten und Gedichte, die oftmals von sagen-haften Begebenheiten handeln. Auch ihre Bilder, Skulpturen und Installationen wirken poetisch, hie und da sogar märchenhaft, sind aber nicht ohne kritischen Biss. Die Autorin und Malerin lebt rund die Hälfte des Jahres in La Punta auf der Kanareninsel La Palma... (weiterlesen)

Ingrid Jureit

Creating Pictures

The work by Sylvia Catharina Hess is essentially defined by interaction of very subjective thoughts on the one side and reflections about literature on the other side. This characteristic style presents more difficulties when the topics progress from just landscapes to figures.

Such a working method often puts message and reality to the test. The painted picture must focus on the essential core of the topic in order to give it a total new meaning by colour and composition as important carriers of expression. Furthermore, the usual viewing habits are being questioned in the process, there is no orientation for the eyes in the perspective.

It is not an easy task when situations are in each others’ ways because the artist always sees herself - and her own „life situations“ which she puts into the pictorial space - through the mirror of a mental correction with regard to the literary sources. The return to the origin of thoughts requires an immense consequence from the artist who does not simply count on pre-shaped coincidence. Even the smallest change is often a serious step which does not come about as easily as the viewer may think. Within the inner struggle this process is not always consciously controlled but reaches a state of mind which drives the artist again and again.

Let us take a look at the picture „Vierzehn“ („fourteen“). In the picture a lifetime is stretching from toddler to teenager to the mature woman. The fourteen year old girl is wearing a blindfold symbolising her blindness of thought at this age. This is an important metaphor which must be meticulously thought out and controlled just like the arc which is stretching to the right in the picture thus acquiring a meaningful significance.

Working on numerous details the artist is always ready to change colours and composition of the painting, to explore the meaning of surface treatment as well as the excitement of dividing the picture in order to achieve a stronger expression of her ideas.

Everything in this process is inconvenient, nothing is simple or easy because art cannot be satisfied with simple pure depiction, it needs continuous development, always new thoughts about the pictorial space, the composition, the colour and of course the content of a fully developed theme.p>

Driven by tireless struggle and diligence the artist Sylvia Catharina Hess has achieved a work with a very individual character within the shortest possible period of time and set a lot of things in motion. .

Ingrid Jureit, Hofheim am Taunus May 2013

Excerpt from Uwe Gilberg-Rindsfüßer’s speech at the opening of the exhibition „Artists see the Middle Rhine – 10 years world cultural heritage site Middle Rhine“ on March 22nd, 2012

[...] The last group I want to mention is - as I frankly admit - my favourite group. In this group we have the artists who have dealt with the Middle Rhine, her myth, even the history of the Rhine romantic as a whole in a very intellectual way and then „translated“ their work into art. Such a process – and I know this from long experience although I am not an artist myself – makes the minds sparkle and brings joy to the hearts of the artists and the viewers. Wit and irony are not uncommon but there is also thoughfulness, mystery, and enigma. If you view – just as an example – the picture „Ach, Lore…“ by Sylvia Catharina Hess at the front right and if you think about Brentano’s poem about Lore Lay at the same time, you can start contemplating about the 200 years history of the tragic female figure up to Helmut Dietl’s movie „Rossini oder die mörderische Frage, wer mit wem schlief“. It makes us proud that the picture was speficially painted for this exhibition.[...]

Exhibition: disrespectful items , enigmatic items, and even Rhinestones are shown in the Kreishaus

By chief editor Michael Stoll


[..] Let us first stay with the painting and let us remain in Bettendorf: „Ach, Lore“ is the name of Sylvia Catharina Hess’s new picture which looks rather naive at first sight but is in fact pure social criticism when you take a closer look: Apparently, the girl with the golden comb is going to be condemned or convicted because the churchman has been overcome with lecherous desire – the legendary Loreley seen from a modern perspective of women. [...]

from: Rhein-Lahn-Zeitung, 04.12.2012

„Good Luck“ can be found on the Loreley

Exhibition: Together with seven other artists Sylvia C. Hess shows sculptures and installations on the „Kunst- und Literatur-Pfad“

by Carolina Küstermann

Loreley. Sylvia C. Hess heads the project Kunst- und Literatur-Pfad Loreley (KLP) together with Petra Dutiné and shows her installation „The good luck“ on the RheinSteig between St. Goarshausen and Bornich. The two artists developed the concept in 2009 and realized it for the first time in 2010 with the help of the KULT-UR-INSTITUT, the Kultursommers Rheinland-Pfalz as well as many sponsors.

In her school days Sylvia C. Hess was already an art enthusiast. Nonetheless she studied German Language and literature and political sciences and worked as a teacher and method coach for 30 years. In all those years art was always her hobby. In her free time she took classes from various artists until she finally decided to become a freelance artist in 2007.

The 59 year old artist is inspired by literary works like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also gets excited about colour and light, landscapes or sentiments. „When I build an installation like the one on the „Kunst- und Literaturpfad Loreley“, I let myself be captivated by the atmosphere of the place where I want to put it.“ Sylvia C. Hess adds „My goal is to create a symbiosis of natural space and artistic statement.“

from: Rhein-Lahn-Zeitung, 26.08.2011

Excerpt from the laudation on the occasion of the 10th Nassau Kulturpreis award

„Art in the free space“

Ladies and Gentlemen, Usually a laudation is held for one prize winner. However, tonight I would like to honour all three decorated pieces and prize winners because the outcome was very close, anyway. Also I want to speak more about the award-winning pieces and less about the artists and I want to do this in a very subjective manner. In the end it is the work that describes the artist.

After the decision by the jury I spent quite a lot of to time contemplating about the three pieces. After this period of watching and contemplating the perception by viewing sets in and suddenly the piece of art is very intimate and you feel close to the artist – its creator – in the same way. In the process the artist’s intention becomes clearer and clearer through the impact of the art on yourself.


Now we come to the runner up, the silver award The installation „Dream Path“ by Sylvia Catharina Hess

Mrs Hess is an illustrator, painter, works with sculptures’ and writes and with all these skills she creates installations like the „dream path“ developing three-dimensional rooms.

In order to comprehend Mrs Hess’s installation to the full extend, you have to walk through it back and forth, read the texts, stand still, focus your eyes on close and far, let them move zooming in and out and of course you have to sit on the tree stump pausing, reflecting and letting the art work its magic.

Feel the harmony of the written poetry with the steles and the space which is hereby created and get lost in this space.

With the installation Sylvia Catharina Hess has created rooms which inspire various sensations, draw you in, get under your skin. Your reflection is encouraged, you are carried away. As in the previous case the setting plays a supportive part: nature, the grass, the bushes and trees, the slope, the play of light and shadow. Everything seems like an enchanted garden. You become a part of it, mythical creatures have gathered around you. Their various looks, faces, shapes – they make an impact. Instinctively you contact the creatures, the gnomes, masked men, and watch men. They look at me; they talk to me about the aphorisms and poems. – They captivate me and make me self-conscious.

Then I read „Living means arriving and leaving.“ When I left I felt awoken and strangely moved.

Thank you, Sylvia, and congratulations on the second prize.


Prof. Dieter Fröbisch October 29th, 2010