|Some thoughts on my work||back|
|For quite a few years now I have developed my work of art from the grotesque and figurative towards a reduced and non-figurative conception of my
themes. My theme in general and the main stress of my artistic work is on the research into the correlation between an abstract pictorial expression and - let me say - a basic
feeling, or a basic awareness of our most common ground as human
beings. I call this a 'basic status' in my theoretical approach.
The result of my work can be seen in three ways: First of all I am a practising artist myself, second I try to outline my theoretical background concerning the production and reception of art and to find an appropriate frame for it (I am just trying to make use of the medium Internet for the presentation of the results of my theoretical research), third my attempt to convey and to check my theories against the background of my various activities as a lecturer and as a teacher (academy of fine art Århus, Denmark).
Within my work I have always tried to disconnect the "abstract" from the connotation of the "incomprehensible" and to find a way to show, in my work, what is generally seen as human capacity to experience reality. What I am doing is a bit of basic research work into the field of fine art, not to contribute, in a naive way and without reflection, to the huge amount of visual stimuli already existent, but to find a way for the visual language to express itself without cynicism and aggression. I have always been shocked by the idea that only in Bremen there are 500 pictures produced by artists each day, - day by day, year after year. Projected on the whole of Germany, or even Europe, it amounts to an immense flood of paintings, installations, prints, drawings, which represent the same amount of hopes, passions and even megalomania which I don't want to contribute to. In the actual discourse on art there are some items from which I want to dissociate myself in a certain way. There is for example a tendency to say that today everything really 'arty' must be done by means of technical support of the new media, video, computer and so on. For me that is the same as if in times of book-printing someone had said that from then onwards the only thing to do would be printing, and every other form of art had thus become dispensable. Every form of language like speaking, dancing, wood-carving, painting, video and so on has its legitimacy. Each language has the possibility to express in its own way the essentials in which mankind is involved. And these essentials might change through history in their range of importance. And so it is possible that the set of media with which the current paradigms of a society can best be expressed may change as well. But in the same way the set of media is interfering in the paradigms a society is dealing with. It can certainly not yet been said for sure in how far the selection of certain media and the ideas transported with them are not directed by interest. So it is possible that artists are set on the exploration of the specific vocabulary of new fields of media, which then can be exploited by those who have at their disposal the economic power to command the media and thus language itself. The "anything goes" is thus the encouragement for artists to deliver all their fantasy in the exploration of media but then the selection of what really "goes" is up to those who decide what really fits the interests concerned. There is still the saying: the ruling language is the language of the rulers. In the production of art the agents have blossomed into the real "artists" by getting access to the established media. Genuine art today takes place in the expositions, in events of mass-media, in the arrangement of media presentation and critics. For the artists themselves is kept the role of helpers at best or else the producers of raw material for this "hyper-art". If an artist still wants to become famous, he must do everything to cope with this hyper-art. Whether such an art can be of any value for the developing of human knowledge remains to be proved by the future. Post-modern art is one example of what I mean: There is said that you only can make statements referring to culture itself. In our times the existence of the individual is no longer in the fore, but the recurring staging scenario of a cultural reality that has already been produced and spreaded before. (Nicht mehr die Existenz des einzelnen Menschen stehe im Vordergrund, sondern die immerfort wiederkehrende Inszenierung einer bereits kulturell inszenierten Wirklichkeit). I think that this is nothing but the continuation of the art of historicism with new means. You don't necessarily need a computer for the creation of virtual worlds, it might be just enough to look at Rubens' "Fall into Inferno" or a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. I try a different way. I am still a man who asks: what is the basis of our human existence in our modern culture and what despite of all this is our real human nature. I know - even if this seems almost trite today... And I look for this in the field that we call the abstract... Well, we know abstract art, also called "non-figurative art", or "concrete" or "informel", and there are many more at our disposal. They say, that these are the all embracing terms, that they belong to the realm of philosophy, much too difficult for the normal mortal. The abstract is simply too abstract. But there is the observation that in a picture there are always the same elements, there is a format, a shape, a surface, colours, contrasts, directions, swings, proportions, relations, connections, ties, accumulations, change, repetition, light and darkness, the light, and the dim, the blurred and the precise. We can in fact find all these things and many more in pictures. But what can certainly not be found are: flowers, heroes, buildings, pretty women. Consequently there are abstract elements belonging to a picture like skin to a human being, like breathing, like night and day, the rhythm of the beating heart, like hunger and thirst, like love, birth and death. And there is much more belonging to the unspoken basic elements of man. It is what every human being knows, the man from Australia as well as one who comes from Bremen. And it is accepted until it is questioned by further influences which in turn belong to the basic elements. You become aware of the fact that you can stand upright when your knees begin to shake, that you are healthy becomes clear when disease begins to gnaw on you. I'll call these general elements, which cannot be removed from human existence "abstract". These elements belong to our form of existence like water to the fish. Each (form of) language, and thus the pictorial language too, can help to convey the meaning of certain abstract elements of the basic essence of man. (And a panel painting as well). This basic equipment becomes perceivable in the abstract structure of the respective medium. But. The abstract can only be discerned in the concrete an so be understood. Our present time tends to neglect this basic structure of human existence. It is replaced by a cultural corset. It is the mass media which are providing the prototypes, not man's own and genuine experience. Our time does not want to perceive the abstract, that is the self-evident continuity of our existence (and therewith all those things which unite all people) our time tends to superimpose the perception of the essential things by a wealth of adventures, thrills, the arbitrary, and fashion gags. And the more you join in this frenzy, the less you are able to perceive the simplicity, clarity and self-evidence of the abstract - an it is getting "incomprehensible"... - (which in the end is of advantage for those who use their power in a selfish way). The concrete alone is doomed to be arbitrary and superficial. The abstract alone is likewise doomed not to be vivid and therefor lacking notion. The picture is a fabulous medium. It is always concrete in its respective appearance in which it is presented, but it can never be as unperceivable as f.e. an "abstract term". A picture is excellently qualified to make the abstract perceivable. In every good picture the abstract is perceivable, and if it is not the picture can evoke prejudice at best. That's why I paint abstract pictures. They are so quiet, that you must closely look at them in order to learn what they are about, they are so charming that something is moving you very strong, but on the other hand they are so concrete that imagination carries you away. Let us come down to the point: I have been dealing with the vertical line at some length now. Quite a commonplace theme. The vertical line is a basic element of every picture, which is evident, otherwise it would be hanging crooked. At the same time the vertical line is a basic and essential constant factor of being human. The power of gravitation asks for the vertical line when standing, building or growing. We all know what that is, the vertical line. And that is the reason why it is one of the themes in my pictures. How this relation to the power of gravitation shows itself, takes shape, becomes concrete at the moment in question, and how the picture expresses it may be completely different. You can quite as well sit upright as loose your balance. You can fall or stagger, there is always a concrete relation to gravitation. The vertical line in a picture is the thing to show this in a sort of sophisticated way. What up and down really means, what stretching upwards is, what the supposed gravity is, all that becomes perceptible in the abstract picture. The picture is hanging on the wall, a surface of paper, consequently a projection area for thought as everybody knows. A picture represents a certain form of thinking and not reality. It does not mirror reality, it reflects our attitude towards this reality. It helps us to sharpen our thoughts concerning reality. The vertical line on a picture is a model of a possible concretisation of a real vertical line. Through the picture I can experience how I experience myself as one who is sitting, standing firmly on the ground, or leaning. Or else I can enjoy the aesthetic quality of the picture, I may hang it unto the wall without noticing how, by and by, it produces its effect, an effect which will more often last for years than not. You get attached to pictures. In such a way I understand my own pictures.