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buildings II

secret | future
2015 – 2016

Seven churches in Germany, predominately built in the style of “Brutalism,” the main style that emerged from the early 20th century modernist movement.

Brutalism was most popular, not only in Germany, but internationally from the mid.50’s to the late 70’s. The word “brutalism” comes from the French “beton brut”– raw concrete. Le Corbuseir, the pioneer of this style, was the first European architect to incorperate concrete in his designs on a large scaled during the post-war years.

The distinctive features of brutalist buildings include raw-poured concrete walls, the unrendered exposed concrete and the display and enhancement of building construction and structural properties.

The new concept and techniques opened up new ways of architectural design. During these years, architects created buildings in a variety of shapes and often with a “sculptured” look. These buildings are beyond the scope of conventional building and, as unpretentious as their material may be, possess a strong monumental effect.

Brutalist buildings are regarded by many as “soulless building blocks” and are threatened by demolition. Neverthelesss, in the past several years, they have inspired a movement that has attempted to bring attention to them and to preserve their aesthetic value through exhibitions and promotions.

It is striking to note that many churches in post-war Germany were built in the brutalist style. The new methods of structural engineering and the increased artistic freedom associated with them allowed for new ways of interpreting and expressing spiritual themes.

It is their sculpture-like quality which inspired Elena Raulf to interpret them artistically. “Future” represents the forward-looking concept associated with the style during those decades. “Secret” refers to the atmosphere of secrecy she evokes her technique of applying multiple thin layers of paint. The last layer is always a stain. This brings a lively structure to the clear contours of the buildings by creating soft colour gradients.

The combination of both elements creates an image of a church which reflects the contradiction of old and new. The same contradiction that the faith of our time is subjected to. Her clarity and simplicity produces a feeling of the sublime and the sacred in the beholder.

Ellener Brok, 2015
Oil on canvas
180 x 120 cm

Ellener Brok
Bremen, Germany
Architect Hermann Brede
Construction time 1968/69
Protestant church, closed 2015

St. Mary’s Cathedral, 2015
Oil on canvas
180 x 120 cm

St. Mary’s Cathedral/Neviges‘ Cathedral of pilgrimage
Neviges (Velbert), Germany
Architect Gottfried Böhm
Construction time 1968
Catholic pilgrimage church

Fear of Death Christ Chapel, 2016
Oil on canvas
180 x 120 cm

Fear of Death Christ Chapel
Dachau, Germany
Architect Josef Wiedemann
Construction time 1960
Catholic chapel on the site of the former concentration camp

Don Bosco, 2016
Oil on canvas
180 x 120 cm

Don Bosco Church
Augsburg, Germany
Architect Thomas Wechs
Construction time 1960-1965
Catholic parish church

St. Johannes XXIII, 2016
Oil on canvas
180 x 120 cm

Church of the KHG – St. Johannes XXIII
Cologne, Germany
Architect Hans Buchmann (in collaboration with artist Josef Rikus)
Construction time 1964
Church of the catholic university community Cologne

Pfingstberg Church, 2016
Oil on canvas
180 x 120 cm

Pfingstberg Church
Mannheim, Germany
Architect Carlfried Mutschler
Construction time 1962/63
Church of the protestant Immanuel Pfingstberg parish

St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, 2016
Oil von canvas
180 x 120 cm

St. Maximilian Kolbe Church
Hamburg, Germany
Architect Jo Filke
Construction time 1972-1974
Catholic branch church of the Wilhelmsburger church St. Bonifatius, profanation 2015