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     I am the water or the potentate ego (by Ulla Hocker)

     Peter Barthold Schnibbe (by Dr. Rainer Beßling)

I am the water or the potentate ego     by Ulla Hocker

Life comes from the water: phylogenetic as well as ontogenetic. Just as life increased explosively in the primeval sea; develops the fetus in the worm amniotic fluid of its mother’s womb. The body of an infant consists of more than 90 percent water, the one of an adult human of about 70 percent. Also about 70 percent of the earth is covered with water of rivers, lakes and oceans. More than an analogy?

Water is common, yet special. Water flows, splashes, roars, drips, gargles and bubbles. These sensuous experiences are shared by all people. Water tastes very different; depending on whether we drink fresh spring water or tap water. Water smells entirely different; depending on whether we are at sea or on a lake walk. Why does water make us feel good? That we relax in a warm bath or while swimming? Why are we fascinated of the immensity of the ocean? How come our tensed nerves are calmed by its sound?

In the monotheistic religion water is a powerful substance donating life, health and fertility. Water leads to the eradication of sin, baptism or ritual absolutions. These are all terms we relate to in a positive way, which have had an enduring influence on our culture. For this reason, suicides in the water are also very emotionally filled. While pathologists are aware that drowned bodies bear a horrible picture, Pre-Raphaelites glorify them to ethereal, angelic and “fairy like” pale creatures, merging with the elements while returning in the comforting silence of the water.


In advertising, water is the symbol of freshness, vitality and youthfulness. In contrast, art unfolds its cultural ambiguity. The artist’s view is similar to the glance on a reflecting water surface; revealing in reflection and hidden depth a reality that shows the artist its particular way. Art allows us to perceive reality differently. By artwork we learn new aspects of our reality respective getting confronted with unknown perspectives of reality. Not only do we learn new things about ourselves and our world, but also about the inner world of the artist. Each work provides an inside view into his spiritual life.

Often we associate water with the soothing rippling of a brook or the slightly crimping surface of a lake. One, who has enjoyed the spectacle of the breaking waves by walking at the Atlantic beach, can guess the destructive power of water. When hurricane “Katrina” flooded New Orleans in late August 2005, Peter Barthold Schnibbe processed his compassion into the “triptych”. This work embodies the dichotomy of the importance of water in art and cultural discrimination: life and death – each end bears a new beginning. You find this vital flow in every work of Peter Barthold Schnibbe’s. Many of them tell stories of turning points and it is left to the viewer to decide whether he sees the end or new beginning, arrival or departure, good bye or arrival?

The search for constant development is the essence of Peter Barthold Schnibbe’s existence and life’s work. His creative process is always looking for new forms of expression; however he builds on the existing, the proven. As the water is constantly in motion, Peter Barthold Schnibbe is persistently seeking for new creative and personal challenges and through his work he allows us to take part in this process.

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Peter Barthold Schnibbe      (by Dr. Rainer Beßling)

The image was created about 30 years ago. Peter Barthold Schnibbe painted it as the first colour image after the study, with a programmatic character. It shows an American landscape, focus on a “Highway”, as the title says, as a promise of freedom and mobility in asphalt. The horizon is deep. A pale blue sky opens and fills the scenery. Flickering summer heat hangs over the street. Large fields are stretching out to the left and right. Telephone poles along the road; communication- and traffic arteries, which chain the huge country that is characterized by its urban conglomerations as well as by endlessly wide landscapes.

America became a subject for the artist early on. His own biography focussed his view towards the no longer so distant continent. Growing up in Bremerhaven, near the coast and directly at a crossing of waterways, as the son of a captain, Peter Barthold Schnibbe stored these projections, which were always nourished by his father’s journeys. What does it look like on the other side of the sea? Wanderlust and longing, anticipation and melancholy mixed. Passages and routes, departures and arrivals grew together to a motivating circle.

Thus it does not seem coincidental that an early painting of the artist represents a road. An American road, which at first glance shows nothing notable, that shows a silent outer reality, in which a turbulent inner reality is embedded. It leads to a wide horizon, on a surface, that can also serve for the broadest and most personal projections. The painting reminds one of Edward Hopper, the great portraitist of America, in all its facets, but especially in domestic life, in the nature of relations, in the quality of the encounters, in the atmospheric premises that are outlined: in a hotel room, on the beach, on the farmhouse porch, in nature. Trained on the painting of the Impressionists, Hopper suggests light to the coordinates of relationships and lets the colours talk of the emotional quality of a contradictory coexistencehighway

Peter Barthold Schnibbe also uses moments of Impressionist painting in his “Highway”, the brush style, space control and forced composition of light. At the same time he does not refuse to copy. He offers it to the viewer as a multistage production, whose motives, themes and protagonists are only discovered on closer inspection.

This feature in Peter Barthold Schnibbe’s way of painting, which has developed differently within the course of several work phases, can be explained by the central interest of the artist. He directs his focus to places and landscapes that tell stories and where he finds his own story. He documents situations and scenes, keeping hold of encounters that wake up memories and cause an emotional feedback. The scenes, figures and landscapes are not necessarily always seen in the first reality, or even as media images. They work in different gradations, from close to nature to the border of real abstraction. However, they are already shorted at the moment of their perception within the world of the artist. Peter Barthold Schnibbe’s commitment to subjectivity; which every now and then winds up in a painted story is intended.

What makes a motive worth a picture? What catches the attention of the artist? Which view electrifies? It is worthwhile to pursue these questions, to find the answers and information about the impact of the images on the viewer. As the artist passes on the emotions in his pictures that let him connect pictorially into a landscape, a scene or a person. There must be a surprise element that leads the artist to cut out an individual perception, out of the flow of visual offers. A reminder will be awakened, a sensation wins a resonating body, a sense gets housing. Something diffuse clarifies something that is intangible forms. Or a mystery promises rewarding deciphering. The “I” of the artist is at anchor. And also the viewer comes to himself. Objective and individual realities meet each other in realistic scenarios. The religious philosopher Martin Buber, who put the dialogic principle in the center of his worldview, summarizes the basic nature of artistic creation in a concise form: “This is the eternal origin of art, when a human is confronted by form and wants to assume a definite figure. No spawn of his soul, but appearance, which meets and demands acting force. The achievement of a human is important: if he does so, he speaks with his being the basic word to the appearing figure, then the acting force flows, the creation originates”. There is often an extended period of time between the discoveries of the artist, and the recovery and processing of at the easel.

So the images are also a check on, having seen & having dealt with, the intensity and the changing characteristics of the sound after the encounters. Subjective feelings and personal history enrich the effigies; the representation dissolves from the original perception, action moves into the present, therefore, regression into the past always serves as a self – questioning of the artist, during the time of creating.

Individual elements of the remembered or found images are changed, some traces reinforced, figures exchanged, moments from the biography of the artist are added. Speaking, in the case of Peter Barthold Schnibbes paintings, of realism, it is a reality with a strong record of atmospheric clipping and expressivity. The images transport in their overall sound and basic pulse a deep inner connectedness of the painter with the scene. Just as the artist in the perception of reality, usually responds to colour, he uses the paint itself also as the central instrument.wölfe

he “Highway” was followed by an image that won its initial impetus from one of the artist’s visits to Canada. While camping, the artist encountered wolves from the distance. A howling pack passed by, which was a very special acoustic encounter in the darkness of night. The following day, one of the animals turned up. The wolf traditionally is a symbol of the solitary wanderer, but is nevertheless also found embedded in a social structure. Many Indian tribes see him as a pathfinder. According to the experience of the artist and a general idea the animal is painted dimly here: he appears and escapes again. The body is made in floating, impending contours, a reverberation of the nocturnal encounter, and a fuzzy pictorial representation of the wolf’s own shyness, even the wolf in us, who could be stored as a projection in the spaces of the body.mosr exclusive residence

Houses take a permanent place in the Peter B. Schnibbe motif repertoire, often they are buildings with a distinctive face. Windows like eyes seem to reciprocate the view of the beholder. The architectures radiate a grown personality and individual Aura. They change between seclusion and openness, strength and constant transition. They bear history and stories with a hidden suspect. Often they seem to be abandoned and at the same time inviting, promising in relation to possible future inhabitants and charged with the past. A silent melancholy weighs heavy on them. Sometimes a kind of harmony of colours lets them merge with their surroundings, sometimes they are enthroned almost unreal about the landscape and awake a surreal maelstrom, mysterious and scary, as is present in the “Most Exclusive Residence for sale”..

In the beginning blue tones were predominating, and then the painter increased his pallet, bringing vital red into the game with yellow colour further added. Remaining is a characteristic close colour frame that is saving a basic harmony and unity in the exposures. downtown St.Louis

The early works, in which the compositions still lie close to the real phenomenon, are followed by images, where the colors are determined of moving and flowing contours. An influence of Edvard Munch can be recognized here. A certain symbolist expressivity is loading landscapes and figures with glowing colors and movement. The painter cuts out a piece of the city in the painting “Downtown St. Louis”, a lamp illuminates the scene and lets it appear out of the picture. The silhouette of a street only dimly enters into view. The short glance of the passer-by is trapped as the diffuse nocturnal atmosphere itself, drawing the changing, rich schemes in the city.unknown

One step from the outside to the interior: the image “Unknown” shows a view in the back of an undressed woman. The dark scene is charged with mystery and eroticism and sways between concealment and revealing. The face is hardly recognizable. Shyness or shame, contemplation or coquetry let the protagonist lower her head. Female attraction increases here in the averting, physical presence illuminates the darkness. The earthy tones and blazing yellow demonstrate the interior together with the body as a harmonious universe fired by internal tension. The body lying in the shade seems to project a glow on the wall. Lattice-windows lie behind the figure. They do not seem to really let light in, but work as though with a light beam that is enclosed within the intimate scene.Casino

One step from the outside to the interior: the image “Unknown” shows a view in the back of an undressed woman. The dark scene is charged with mystery and eroticism and sways between concealment and revealing. The face is hardly recognizable. Shyness or shame, contemplation or coquetry let the protagonist lower her head. Female attraction increases here in the averting, physical presence illuminates the darkness. The earthy tones and blazing yellow demonstrate the interior together with the body as a harmonious universe fired by internal tension. The body lying in the shade seems to project a glow on the wall. Lattice-windows lie behind the figure. They do not seem to really let light in, but work as though with a light beam that is enclosed within the intimate scene.
Also the atmosphere in the officer’s casino is stamped of the character of a closed, well aligned society. The perspective is very special: the legs of a woman in short dress are shown from the sub-view. A voyeuristic look; free of shame which takes up the erotic radiation openly. The legs, moved as a signal in the picture, form literally the compositional axis. The talks of the casino audience at the tables receive thus a rather unequivocal connotation. The subject of the meeting accumulates thus in sensuousness, physicalness and desireJazz - Eddie Jones.

The soundtrack of the urbane atmosphere is the jazz. The jazz whose protagonists Schnibbe portrays in numerous pictures puts the sound scenery in the bars, takes up the rhythm and the vitality of the towns. He reflects physicalness in his grooves, formulates also melancholy full of life or void of life, but also demanding zest for life in the melodies, piles up harmonies of full frictions on each other, the diversity and contradictoriness shine, freedom striving and the curiosity on unknown, not only musical terrains expresses in improvisations. A consciously restricted colour palette ties the scenery together and undercoats them with a certain base sound. The town rooms receive the character of own universe, look guarded, with the look which the painter opens, the viewer feels like an onlooker.

A quieter variation of the town subject, Liz which the artist tries in a longer work phase, shows the picture “Liz”. A young woman stands in strangely uncertain urbane scenery. In the rear image border fragments of house facades line themselves up. In the centre a ground surface lies more fluently than quiescent in warm earth-colored, passed through from glowing light roads. The woman holds a purse in the right hand and an opened umbrella in the left. She looks out of the picture, in the viewer’s eyes; her expression is serious and firm. Her look could be meant for a person beyond the picture but in the history in which she plays a role, which is not unambiguously to be determined.

The scene shows the woman alone, however, the picture is charged by encounter. Does it tell about resignation or departure? Does a story close here or is the waiting initiating a new episode? Does it end or does it begin togetherness? The woman looks certain and calmly in her simple elegance, it stands in the contrast to the rather dreary, simple urban space.

Mystery and secret are interwoven to the externally clearly composed picture by the fluent colourfulness, which lets feel for their part meeting and transition, the emotional turmoil, warmth and fire. Mysteriously a drum-set case stands also in the picture to whose hard contours the basic sounds of the composition rub themselves. The case carries the initials of the painter who himself is also a drummer. Should biography be indicated here? The experienced certainly is not directly told, the basic scenery is taken from a CD cover. However, this released the resonance in which recollection and projections interfere, in the possibility as a part of subjectively felt reality takes shape.

In the pictures of this work phase lays a colour of the recollection. Veils, aura and patina speak from the sepia clay. In the colouring longing, tense expectation and meeting euphoria mix with reminiscent energy. Past and present intermingle in the essence of the scenery. Beside pieces from the artist’s own biography become incorporated into the picture „An der Schleuse”.Modell und Maler

Scenes which concern the relation painter–model, oncisely in a picture citation from Jacques Rivette’s film „The Beautiful Troublemaker”, are joining in. Who looks exactly, sees the painter put in the right upper corner of the picture. Women’s portraits take a wide space in the work of the artist. Mostly it stays open whether the protagonists play a role in the biography of the artist or are taken from the media world. The game with the role of vagueness and possibilities has its charm. Im Ateleir

In a simultaneously intimate and bright scene the artist paints a student in the studio. The woman has her back turned towards the viewer. Once more this is the look of the quiet observer. It is not to be decided whether the woman feels unobserved or whether she is so lost in her work, that she is not distracted by the observer. The picture holds on a multiple reflection. The painter paints the student, who is seated at an easel, painting a picture, which against her painting, leans a sketch of, the picture she is painting. Painting itself becomes the subject. The light, which falls from the left in the space, illuminates the window frame and the clothes of the painter. Also the floor planking resolves to the colour play. Such segments of pure painting, which are to be found over and over again in Schnibbes pictures, orchestrate the concrete scene, take up the space atmosphere and increase the intensity of the picturesquely frozen moment, which unites creative strain and erotic radiation.

In the latest works the colour pallet clears out. The picture “Fischen” is one example. Dynamics of the activity and the range of the scene connect with each other. The viewer feels the identification of the actor with his activities. To find the point of the dynamic could be a possible enlargement of the motive on the allegorical level. However, person and nature in the resonance do not let overlook the forcible intervention, which is connected with dipping into the harmony.

Nuances and richer colouring levels make the pictures of the latest work phases more multifaceted and open. The shaded, mysterious and concluded of the preceding pictures is broken open. The basic mood is more cheerful, anyhow the narrative wealth gives wide space for assGroße Erwartungenociations. A woman on a porch is painted from a remarkable distance, thus the quiet harmony; the embedding of the shown should not be disturbed in the space. One moment of loneliness also, however, interferes in this correspondence between figure and space.

„Große Erwartungen (Great Expectations)”, the name of a composition, which shows two children on the threshold to their youth in the dance. The scene, in which everything seems to stand in the beginning, is played out in a large room, whose huge windows offer the connection to a lush tendriled nature. The light opens the room, growth appears ornamental and naturalistic; the first affectionate, shy meetings appear in outlines. Everything seems open and possible, the rotations of the dancing, the ways of both of them could go in all directions.

Current pictures of Peter Barthold Schnibbe show partly openly flashbacks in the past decades. In the picture „Else Kempskys Trinkhalle” not only the scenery is to be quickly identified fast as historical ones, the painter also cites the aesthetics of the time and integrates the viewer into a nostalgic mood picture. Probably biographic also resounds here. However, the last deciphering does not stand in the centre. The past culture and form of the public, another quality of the meetings, a historic pace of everyday tempo go on sounding. A door here is promising and enigmatically open as a portal into another world. It is not adoor into the past, that without it; no explanation about the present is to be gained. Each review is intended to clarify the current position with the ever more open attitude towards yesterday, the conscious and the rich can now feel and shape.

In „Theater “ a building site situation and the back of big-city architectures determine the picture. Only bit by bit the central motif, on which the composition is focused, becomes recognizable.Theater In a door a dancing woman appears, far away, accordingly small. However, in her quiet dynamic she animates the profane scene, extends the stage, to which the sign refers in the outside space and back space. The seriousness of the work is illuminated by the play; the moved body opposes the construct. Nathalie Wood dances small, however, determined to the back door. The effect has reminded the artist of Arnold Newman’s photo of Edward Hopper, seated in the foreground and his wife dancing in the background. Such picture finds possess their own magic, the painter picks them up and intensifies them, enriches the realism of the representation with the energy of the emblematical.

In the picture „Local Honey“ an older couple behind a sale frames a girl to whom the writing board in front of the goods seems just as applicable. „Local Honey“, the sweet precious offspring, is very well protected in this family business, maybe absolutely against the will of the girl, who is on the way into adolescence or even adulLocal Honeythood. A broken egg in the delivery includes symbolic figure to the group and if you look closely, the tracks of a hatched chick.

The scenes send out warming memories, enrich the current perception with continuously newer, always different recognition, and reflect the sensitive empathy of the artist for places and protagonists, which provide identification. In the emotional appropriation of the own, often only lately understood history, which suddenly speaks from visual experiences, the topical identity can be visualized. Artistic work, which is always a self-portrayal configuration that carries forward with it, claims for this necessary world of thoughts and work with feelings and calls up additionally the required sensuous potential.

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“Dear Peter Barthold Schnibbe,

Thanks for your letter from May 26th, 2009.

Next to your friendly lines it contained a color copy of your latest painting “Local Honey”.
Therefore I write to you without the inhibitions and resentments that are usual among artists.

You paint realistic, I abstract. You are in the prime of life; I am old.
Fathers’ age;

What connects us? To follow this question has a certain importance, because big differences hardly offer a base for friendship.
So what actually connects us, despite the fact that we both paint? Which in times of disconcerting criticism at the existing right of the painting art (…”The painting art is dead”), absolutely connects.


I like your paintings. Subject, palette, devotion to details: this feels close to me.
“La pintura vive” was my fight title for several last exhibitions in the 90s. I see this confirmed in your special work.

Potatoes, onions, eggs: they have an icon-like clearness – bag inscription, bag position – means: the bag composition – testifies compositional skills which go way above academic usages.
The bright and darkness, understood body-like, is convincing in the shown change and, besides, admits a very sensitive palette: splendid and full olive color, sensitively placed green-turquoise-blue variants, economically emphasizing red “precisely at the right spot”.

Actually, the viewer has not to become literary to do justice to the shown people: young and old at the counter in unity. Like the colors. Like the love to detail and your ability to provide this.

Your work gives me pleasure!

Yours Otto Quirin,

By the way Goethe:
Nevertheless, basically nobody has a right idea of the difficulty of art than the artist himself.”

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