Images and. images (15.09.2001)

This text only signals certain themes. which would need to be developed and clarified.

            This theme came to me while working on a painting that has a rather specific history. While tidying up at the Privat Galerie (today the Temptation Gallery) in Wiesbaden where I had an exhibition in 2001, I rescued a certain painting from being thrown onto the rubbish heap. It was a contemporary, not very successful copy of a Dutch still life, painted on canvas – on a very solid stretcher bar. I decided to paint my own picture on it. I called it a ‘painting and … painting’, because first it was a 17th-century Dutch still life, then someone painted a copy of it, and now on this ground I have painted my painting, which is more a conversation with the Dutch original than with a copy of it. While working on this painting, I realised that this method is characteristic not only of this work, but of almost all my paintings. Each one is painted over some other or is a synthesis of many paintings.

Image and painting: Image – primary(copy) and image – interpretation – analysis – variation – commentary

            As the physiology of vision shows, the stimuli flowing to the cortex from our eyes are a cipher that our brain has to translate into a system of understandable terms – to tell us what we see. Thus, we are more likely to see what we know than what we can ‘see realistically’. To remember, to see the trillions of pieces of information that make up every single real image is virtually impossible for anyone. Everyone, through his or her own experience and emotions, creates for himself or herself a specific code of vision. The result then is not a unified image but rather a collage of different things that we associate with what we ‘see’, through meaning or form, colour or even smell or sound. Painting is perhaps the last ‘island’ where images seen remain in the realm of vision.

            I, in my work, without wanting or even trying to show the real, try to paint this collage – this subjective mixture of the essence of emotions, associations and knowledge. I then want to forget what I know. I want to understand what I see. Maybe that’s when I paint real paintings – realistic paintings

Image and painting: The real image and the subjectively seen image

            We live in a picture culture. All educational and advertising and propaganda systems are now based almost exclusively on acting through images. We have come full circle – first there was the image and then the text. Now the role of text is being minimised again – our Consciousness and imagination can be captured mainly through images. Paradoxically, however, we then unlearn not only to read, but also to see. From kindergarten onwards, our vision becomes formatted by verbal content, context and schema. The helplessness of even educated people in the face of images that do not connect to anything familiar and have no description or easily understandable message – educational, political or advertising – is overpowering.

            We are somewhat rescued by contact with nature, where we are unlikely to ask for meaning or context when looking at a tree or mountain.

Image and image: an image with explanatory text and an image without text (meaningless?).

            A completely different image is a seen image and a remembered image. As time passes, the images in our memory collection reduce, merge or simply disappear. Some images turn into verbal content or form a chain of associations of different things – images, words, emotions, etc. I often wonder what stays in my mind from the images I have seen of, for example, people, landscapes or situations. All my paintings are such forms of remembering and seeing something again. I photograph a lot and this is my base for further work. Such objective remembering as photography constantly gives me a new fascinating counterpoint to what I store in my memory. In painting, I even try to answer the question of why I store this and not something else. Although I myself am surprised by the constantly recurring three or four themes in my works.

            I also don’t know how our vision changes; whether the images we see change our consciousness, or whether it is more our consciousness that changes the same image when we observe it, for example, through the years. And my process of seeing is a flux and in its constant variability cannot be defined. Any attempt to define what we see and remember involves isolating individual aspects of a constantly changing reality. Such frozen remembered images are dead and only art my bring them back to life again, incorporating them into this ever-evolving stream of reality.

            For many years now, I have been constantly taking photographs of the view from my window. This is one of my new projects where I try to make a documentation of the objective changes occurring in nature, while at the same time painting images based on them as an attempt to interpret the changes occurring in my consciousness.

Image and image: The image seen and the image remembered

            To paint nice pictures is a completely different thing from painting good pictures – to create art. The average graduate of an art academy knows and knows how to paint nice, attractive pictures – some can even create beautiful and unique paintings; it is all ‘only’ in the area of technique, sensitivity and talent. The creation of good – outstanding paintings is a kind of phenomenon that is difficult to understand, even for experienced artists or art theorists.

            Today, thousands or millions of nice paintings are being created in the world – framed to be even “nicer”. Artists create professional, decorative objects that often give the impression of art. At

the other extreme are artists who have gone beyond the picture frame in their creativity – they do not paint. Their work, so questionable at times, steeped in provocation and scandal, naively over-intellectualised, is perhaps closer to the realm of art than this million-dollar production of commercial pretty pictures. Perhaps some of these ‘avant-gardists’ know how difficult it is to paint a good picture. Our modern civilisation

and technology has given, for the first time, the chance to be an artist to people who cannot paint (nor sculpt, nor write poetry, nor compose music, etc.,) Modern galleries are virtually washed of painting, and yet thousands (if not millions) of people paint, and another million trade in these paintings. Is it still possible today to believe at all in the future of good, creative painting(?); after the paintings that Titian and Rembrandt, Tintoretto or Vermeer, etc., have painted? The field of possibilities for the aspiring painter has narrowed considerably. There are fewer and fewer people trying to do ambitious, original art through painting and they are becoming harder to find. The market dictates its terms and makes even the art market more of a money market. So it pays to produce nice, simple paintings, which are more an object of craftsmanship than a work of art.

            Good pictures – works of art – can also be pretty (even in an ad hoc commercial sense) , but they do not have to be; this is never their only function. Rather, they should create new, unknown patterns of beauty, and not only in the visual sphere, but also in the intellectual (spiritual) sphere .

Image and image: The pretty picture and the good picture

            Art appeals to the individual man, while today’s world is ruled by the masses. Artists, in their search for a compromise, try to find themselves in this situation. They transform their work into a media and social activity. By creating politically correct works, they want to reach these abstract masses and lose touch with the individual. People who intuitively seek contact with nature, escaping the hustle and bustle of flashing images and the noise of the media, increasingly forget that they could find the same in art. Just where can one still find such art that has not forgotten contact with the individual human being. When people are looking for such art, they end up in galleries with multimedia presentations that are hardly any different from the reality that exists in large shopping malls or TV commercials. This is an overpowering absurdity that destroys the basic essence of art. Computer-generated works of art are as distant from man as our entire civilisation is distant from man. Such art losing contact with man ceases to be art properly (?).

The image and the image: The image that is and the image that is not