Contemplation

I feel I belong to an artistic tradition1 which endeavors to transform and condense into pictures a reality that is experienced as magical. By “magical” I mean the sensation, associated with both fear and hope, that this cruel but beautiful world where we first awake as humans is actually based on something deeper. We cannot, however, approach this concealed other world by dissecting, deforming, or symbolically charging the phenomena it engenders. Instead we must circumscribe these phenomena, describing and representing them again and again, giving them names, an individual sense of order, a personal significance. The real secret lies in both belonging to this realm and yet remaining on the outside. It seems to me that both the natural sciences and psychology, despite their many fascinating insights, offer no explanations in absolute terms. Some of their exponents even themselves propose that the quest repeatedly leads us to the open-ended and unfathomable. On the one hand, the technical application of scientific insights implies that reality can be fundamentally explained and controlled. On the other hand, the boundaries of this reality are used to justify an individually designed escape route into religious fundamentalism or esotericism. Both of these approaches lead to the instrumentalization of nature and humanity, possibly even to their destruction For me it remains impossible to ignore and not to respect and marvel at the primary dignity of the given world. I insist on a view of the world - a Weltanschauung - in a literal sense. I insist on this because the increasing economization of the natural world is accompanied by the debasement and trivialization of the imaginative and beautiful. Although the “beautiful” has now been back in fashion for some time, it is often confused with the comfortably cute or the calculatingly aesthetic. A desire for beauty and its representation is possibly the quintessential feature of our humanity - conscious of ourselves and our finiteness, positioned between Eros and Thanatos - and needs no further justification. This is also the case with the artistic pleasure in play, coherence, and an elegant solution.
In the above, I have outlined the basis for my artistic work. In terms of style, the result is a tendency toward realism (but not naturalism!). This provides the formal framework: the objectivizing vanishing point on an essentially subjective horizon of experience2.

My painting technique takes its inspiration from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, achieving its final color effect only through superimposing a number of layers of transparent paint. This enables a greater degree of color depth and differentiation compared with alla prima or direct painting. Naturally, the techniques of the past can only be recreated to a certain degree, but I am not interested in nostalgic craftsmanship. The quality and durability of my materials are important, because I want my pictures to stay the way I intended them as long as possible.


(1) Roman murals are the earliest surviving evidence of this tradition. It does not reappear, at least in Western art, until the early Renaissance, when artists increasingly began to concentrate on depicting external reality. Rather than using reality as a vehicle to illustrate iconographically encoded transcendence, they faced the challenges posed by reality itself. From that point onward, the depiction of a religious, historical, or legendary event became more and more a pretext, a subject, a theme, or an occasion to represent the external world. While some artists favored extensive narrative, others pursued a high degree of formal precision and earnest. It is these artists who meditate on the real as it appears in the light of day, rather than mediating or mediatizing it. Some examples through to the present day are: Pierra della Francesca, Masaccio, Mantegna, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Poussin, Georges de la Tour, Chardin, Caspar David Friedrich, Georges Seurat, Edward Hopper, Balthus, Lucian Freud.
(2) I believe that the area of tension or force field between opposing objective-subjective poles is one of the few real constants in modern art. The debate surrounding the somewhat fuzzy concepts of “form” and “content” can lead to eye-opening excursions to the periphery of this subject. However, it can also lead to banal statements of the obvious.