Oil and acrylic on canvas
Life of its own
From 1978, in close conjunction with the work on the print editions, I began to paint in oil and to get a handle on colour composition. This was not an exercise of translating drawings and etchings into colour. On the contrary, the colour relationships across the composition of the oil paintings invest them with a dynamic and a life all of their own. It is for this reason that their titles consist solely of the year in which they were painted and a serial number that identifies their place in the sequence of works painted that year. In this publication, however, in the interest of juxtaposing oil paintings and works on paper, their illustrations are captioned with the titles of the relevant editions.
To protect their cause, the Lone Wolves rally together
The inexorable magnification of the detail at the moment of forgetting
Paintings for our children
During this period, our family grew. The three children we already had when we moved to Germany (Sven, Tina, Brice) were joined by eight further bambini (Iris, Mia, Eva, Sara, Eric, Alice, Tommy and Anna) and a foster child (Salomé). We repeatedly expanded our homes in Engenhahn and in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer in southwest France and succeeded in creating a harmonious, antiauthoritarian family atmosphere.
The pictures I painted for my children, each of whom had their own space, bear witness to this. Most of these pictures have a subject that was specific to the child for whom it was painted. Not included here are portrait sketches and fantasy drawings made of and for them.
The years between 1980 and 2000 also saw me produce oil paintings that were inspired by encounters and experiences with people around me and that became imaginary realities – realities of ‘we-ness’, of fulfilment, of alienation and of painful loss. These paintings are markers of my life at that time and the remembrance of people who were or are important to me.
In 1971, favourable circumstances allowed us to acquire a plot of land in the Charente Maritime on the French Atlantic coast, where we proceeded to build a house to our own design. There, in my studio at Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, I produced the drawings and paintings presented in this publication. They were inspired by the atmosphere and light of the Atlantic, by the relaxed mentality of the region and by our garden. They depict an imaginary reality of fulfilment and convey a sense of paradise.
In the meantime, I had reached the zenith of my career at Arthur D. Little and decided to withdraw from the rat race of growth and development. Not that I struck sail, but I won the freedom to dispose of my time with greater autonomy and to become more aware of what was important and what was not.
Evidence of that can be found in my paintings of the years 2000 to 2003, which were inspired by the memory of earlier experiences of fulfilment and which gave expression to the imaginary reality of dreamlike ‘we-ness’ but also to that of loss and transience.
Thousand and one night
By contrast, the subsequent series A Thousand and One Nights, painted between 2007 and 2008, is an expression of wildness, abundance, sensuality and intoxication. I experienced myself as being overwhelmed by the senses and desire; my sensuality encompassed the sense of taste, the sense of smell and the sight of sinuous ecstatic bodies. To capture this reality, to preserve its purity of lust and naturalness, was a process akin, perhaps, to the setting to music of a rhapsody, but with colour and forms.
From Saint-Palais-sur-Mer one can follow the course of beautiful river Charente through rolling vineyards to arrive at the town of Cognac and its Carmelite convent that is home to our eldest daughter Tina – now Marie-Pierre du Christ – who lives a life of contemplation and asceticism yet remains close to us in her prayers.
Visits to her and our conversations about her calling, her faith and her love provided the inspiration behind the Cognac pictures I painted between 1998 and 2005. They are pictures of a reality of ideals and values that move me to feel connected to others, to be a believer in a community of people with a calling, who champion justice and help for those in need and who trust in the existence of a Creator.
Paintings in a socieatal context
For a planned exhibition in a Berlin gallery, the gallery owner said that artists had to make the reference to the context of their work, their time, recognizable through their work. “Contextualization” – whatever that means.
This view appealed to me. Nothing that I create is without context. But the gallery owner meant a much more obvious contextualization.
From my early youth I had expressed my amazement at what people do and what they do to each other – and so I took my amazement today about human absurdities as an impulse for pictorial design.
This is how pictures of amazement came about.
In 2015, the Künstlergruppe 50 was invited to an exhibition in Wiesbaden’s twin city Istanbul/Fatih. The exhibition was held in a high-ceilinged light-filled room of the town hall and saluted by the mayor of Fatih as a meeting of two great cultures. In my Fatih paintings, I have tried to capture the experience of the city, the changing atmosphere and light over the course of each day and the palpable presence of history that influences everyday life set against the backdrop of ancient Byzantium and Constantinople. Shown in the retrospective at the Kunsthaus Taunusstein, the Fatih paintings form the end of the trail made manifest.
They are not, however, the end of my work as an artist. I continue to paint, and there are new paintings, new invocations of imaginary realities to continue the trail into the unknown.