Past work


In a lovely village, Furstenberg an der Oder, Bart Domburg by chance ran up against the subject of the Fassades. This resulted in a long series of paintings about the inaccessebility of the fassades from the GDR to the inscrutability of the colossuses of Capital.

The first Fassade

2004-Uberall-Oil-on-canvas-160-x-200“That was a painting of two windows of a house in that small village on the Polish border. It was such a friendly village with a church, beautifull situated on the river Oder.Between the windows of an old house on the church square was on the wall the name Hitler carved. In such an idyllic setting that loaded name, wich I found remarkable. I took a photo and hung it in my studio at home. That was at the beginning of 2004. I lived in Berlin, in the former East-Berlin. I used to travel a lot in the surroundings. That was how I ended up in that village, because I had visited Eisenhuttenstadt, wich literally means iron foundry town. The iron-and steel production in the former GDR was concentrated in that area. Until 1961 the town was called Stalinstadt, in the fifties designed on the drawingtable as the ideal socialist city, a bit after the fashion of the Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin, but on a more modest scale. Erste sozialistische Stadt Deutschlands the propaganda was called. The workers, about forty thousand in total at his heights, were seduced with central heating and showers in all the apartments. Wenn I was there, several house blocks were deserted and many houses boarded up. A das face. After the Wende the steel production had been reorganized. Eisenhuttenstadt had slid from the ideal city into a ghost town. The people who still lived there, didn’t have any prospects at all.”

“That picture of the two windows, with Hitler carved between them, kept me intrigued. I looked at it often. Suddenly I saw those windows, with one of them it’s possible to take a little look inside and with the other you see the reflection of the space, wich in in fact behind you. I had to think of Las Meninas by Velasquez, in wich a mirror is hanging on the wall. In that mirror you see the royal couple. The king and queen are so to speak in the same position as you and me watching Velasquez paint the scene. Fascinating, you are lookingat something that takes place behind your back. An extra space enters the painting. The two windows in the fassade of that old house in that friendly village on the Oder, I than painted. The beginning of a long series.”

“A fasade marks the boundary between inside and outside , between private and public, between what belongs to you and what you have to share with others. The windows in the fassades sometimes allowe you to have a look inside, at yourself, while the outside world is also forcing itself upon the reflection. In a way the fassade is confronting you with yourself and it points out the relation you have with other people and with society. The form and the condition of the fassade metaphorically tells us something about social relations, past and present. Without interpreting all these aspects specifically. That’s something I’d like to leave to the imagination of the viewer, just like with my landschapes. ”Painting landscapes and fassades neutrally and soberly and emphasizing their factuality, is food for thought. Fact becomes meaning, as Robert Rosenblum put in his book Modern Painting and the northern Romantic Tradition”


1999 - Berlin, Haus der Wannseekonferenz - Oil on canvas - 185 x 130“I used to paint a lot of landscapes before the fassades. I painted a lot of Landscapes with a certain story or meaning, but by my neutral way of painting. I don’t emphasize that story. It also has to do with the fact that I don’t like to show the emotion in the handwriting of the painter the often raise fake and unnescessary sentiments. With it neutrality disappears and I don’t want that to happen.”
2000 - Jerusalem, Garden of Gethsemane - Oil on canvas - 200 x 250
“The Garden of Gethsemane for example or the or the garden of the Haus der Wannseekonferenz are meaningfull places, but I paint them as factual possible. In the Garden of Gethemane are eiht enormous olive trees, of wich is said they are more then twoo thousand years old and the silent witnesses of Christ’s suffering. Whether that is true or not is not of any importance. But you could imagine that Jesus might have seen these olive trees.

In the garden near the Haus der Wannseekonferenz there is a tree standing in the middle of a path that obstructs the passage. At the same place where the Nazis discussed the logistics of the Entlosung. You don’t make up something like that. The title of that painting is: Berlin, Garten Haus der Wannseekonferenz. A neutral title because I don’t want to give a moral judgement, that’s up to the viewer him or herself.

Das grosse Fenster

2001 - Das grosse Fenster - Oil on canvas - 200 x 280“The painting I made of the interior of the great hall of the Berghof, Hitlers residence in the Alps. The large window was located here and gave a breathtaking view on the Alps. The window was designed by Hitler himself and could go all the way down. The window was clearly meant to intimidate.”
“ In retrospect, Das grosse Fenster is the key piece of my oeuvre. A fassade avant la letter. The window defines a border, just like the fassades paintings. It’s true you can look trough to the Alps, but at the same time the window makes me think of a movie screen with on it the obtrusive view of the mountains projected and the outside light streaming inside. It’s registering the outside world but you can’t get trough. For me it was also an appropriate metaphor for any dictatorship; Indeed, always directed inwards.”

The fassade as bearer of history

“I was riding through my neighbourhood on my bike on my bike and took pictures of characteristic buildings of the GDR period. I painted them. Also to register how it was. After the Wende you can see that the history of the GDR has been stashed away , as if it never existed. At last the free market system has won and a sense of shame causes everything that doesn’t fit in this picture to be erased. The former GDR Volkspalast is demolished, streetnames change, part of several housblocks are destroyed. History is denied. Whether you think of it as good or bad, beautiful or ugly, it was their history! The mechanism can be compared with the collective repression of the history of the Third Reich after the Second World War. It was called die Verschworung des Schweigens”.

“I painted a lot of those massive, inaccessible, impersonal buildings and fassades of the GDR. In a way they show no consideration for the individual, they lack the human measure. They represent a certain system, they were build for good reason, they are part of a repressive society. A kind of mixture of awe and shiver brings itself to the fore by painting the fassades as realistically and neutrally as possible. At the same time the rhythm and structure of the windows in those fassades point out a more abstract meaning, allowing to experience the fassades at different levels. The windows invite you to glimpse inside, but most of them only reflects the surroundings. The fassades are the borders. You can’t go in and you can’t understand then”.

“Like the buildings and fassades of the GDR can be seen as symbols of that system, the colossuses of trade, industry and banks are symbols of the capitalist system.Just look at New York, London or the Zuidas in Amsterdam. The fassades are often only made up of glass, just as inaccessible and inscrutable as the buildings in the GDR. In all those buildings decisions are and were made with fundamental consequences for everybody. Decisions, as the financial crises made clear, that the decision maker themselves didn’t understand either. Now it appears that the architecture of this magnificent system, which was considered to be invincible after the fall of the Berlin Wall and would conquer the whole world, literally is a fassade.

Text Jhim Lamoree