Poysdorf, die Weinstadt Österreichs
Open-Air Gallery Ohmeyer - Poysdorf, Maria-Ohmeyer Weg

Meeting Maria v. Ohmeyer

 
Maria Ohmeyer - Meeting with an Artist, Sept. 1981 (by Elfriede Lenk)

My closer acquaintance with Maria Ohmeyer had started in 1972. Her wish, to portrait my five year old son, followed some visits in her studio. She opened in black trousers, complemented with a torquoise-coloured blouse, the hair styled in her very own way, covered with a light veil which she draped in a, for us unusual way, over her red-blond hair. The red lacquered finger-nails faded beside all these colour stains on her hands - from the picture she was already painting. Colour-stains belonged to her, as well as the infinite number of keys on a crude bunch which she always was carrying with her twisted round a hand. High-heels and an elated walk as well as a soft wag in her eyes gave her a youthful charisma. At this moment it was very difficult to believe that Maria Ohmeyer was 76 years old. Passionately she was moving through the rooms of her old furnished flat, to show her oil paintings, sometimes four or five-times staggered and on walls leaning. Meanwhile she opened lockers and cases which brimed over with her dear loved rough drafts.

"You know, rough drafts are the immediate experience. Experience capability is the core of art, this seed is shaping up to a baloon . Sometimes rough drafts are for me more valuable than a finished picture." While she was admiring the orange of a gladiolus on a colour rough draft, she already pointed at portraits of local vinegrowers, farmer´s wives, added little humorous stories and didn´t leave me time to admire all these children-portraits. Many local motives, landscapes of the Weinviertel, countless flower paintings, she indefatigably put on the easel, to have a better look at them. Suddenly she said, "I am living with my pictures, if I had to seperate from them, that were like if someone would undress my shirt over my head. I would feel naked." This is certainly an explanation, why she didn´t sell any pictures. In front of her husband´s portrait Alphons v. Ohmeyer, a general who was 20 years older than herself, she starts to tell parts of her lifestory - about her husband whom she lost because of a traffic accident after a 29 year old marriage. She also tells about her only son, who died at an age of 20 in the Second War. Suddenly a very different Maria Ohmeyer stands in front of me - a vulnerable, sensitive woman and mother. Low voiced she says, while turning away from her son´s portrait: Everything what we are, is our will, it keeps me alive. I´ve struggled through to see the positive in everything, that has kept my sense of humour. Art has helped me, to bear all the lonely hours." Without a transition she tells about being related with Kubin because of her father Leonard Schmidt, who came from Nikolsburg. She is really proud of this relationship. Out of the first visits a friendship developed. I visited the artist more and more often. I was allowed to read all her many poems and "written thoughts".

To understand and affirm the sense of her artistic life, to cope with the loss of her family, to bear the loneliness and ultimately understand God - that all has formed this wife and has found its expression in her poems and pictures. I kept looking forward to her desultory passionate, always ingenious, sometimes even homorous, style of telling.

Once she looked at her "Pieta" and said, "Can you imagine what I suffered when I painted the face of Holy Mary? I could have never painted it this way, without the loss of my own son."

On September 5, 1981 the artist was already 85 - no colour-stains on her hands any more, a dusty easel with dried up oil-colours, the last picture dates from 1973. She still has an open door for every visitor and gladly shows her pictures. Many times she herself stands gazing in front of her works and says, "God, how was I able to do all that, is that all really from me?"

She has finished her combat as an artist. Her remaining strength she needs now to cope with her evening of life.

Elfriede Lenk, September 1981 (Translation by G. Wlaschitz)