“Walt & Me”, Stuttgart, 2012/2013
Acrylic painting on canvas, 2,90 x 1,60 meter, plus timelapse movie of the performance.
My first publicly shown work that I’d consider “conceptual painting”. Was done within the art series “Grossartige Momente” hosted once every year by Pulsmacher, inviting an artist to freely interpret that term (engl.: great moments). About one month of painting captured in a timelapse. The priorly communicated goal was to create a 2,90 x 1,60 meter canvas that features a traditional portrait painting that will be painted over in white before its exhibition – the only trace of the figurative components are documented in digital film and blurrily in a polaroid. Polaroid was chosen because it is a rather inexact medium to archive memories that also has a certain life of its own and unpredictable components – just as our own memory. During that month, every time when I witnessed one of those well known moments where I thought I can’t go on with the painting, where I’m tempted to stop because of fear to ruin the progress so far, or where I thought I already ruined it, I would take a polaroid instead, through it aside and continue – assured by the fact, that in the end the canvas will become white again. In contrast to the very formal result I chose a motif dear to my heart and painted a portrait of Walt Whitman. I wanted to find out how it feels to be that free of fear of judgement. It was the first time, after a one year hiatus from art that I showed what I really want to do. An emancipation from my prior work that was rather illustrative. It felt unbearable to me though, the feeling that I have to create something “pretty” and “cute” just so someone gives s**t. I was in no good place. Hence I took a step back and started studying theoretical media and media economics at University of Media, Stuttgart. To my surprise, doing that I found my love for media theory that inspired a new way to approach art for myself. This piece of work marks a new chapter in my work that influences all work since. I wanted to illustrate how it feels to me finishing a figurative painting at the time. A sense of self-worth, merciless analysis by myself, “mistakes” pile up and at some point I lose all connection to it and I move on – it vanishes from my consciousness and just the process of creating it remains a blurry memory. Further more I just wanted to see how it feels and what it would do to me and my perspective on my work. Another aspect I found exciting: It need to be a large-scale canvas. It was hung at Pulsmacher’s entrance foyer. I wanted to create this white surface – with smudges as the original paint worked its way through the white layers in ways I couldn’t control. One might wonder what is this huge white dirty canvas? And why is there a Polaroid stuck on it? You have to come close to see the Polaroid and a picture of the painting before the white layers were added. Once you take a step back you can see that the “smudges” and different shades of white actually show silhouettes of the painting underneath. You have to come close to that huge canvas though. The huge format is all around you, you are entering that space. Once you step back from it you can never see it as just a white canvas again, because you were made aware of a layer underneath. I liked how this open the door for all sorts of analogies and how it reminds me of all sorts of mechanics in life that I adore. I was thankful for all the great and interesting conversations that this piece of work started – which to me is the true treasure of art and my motivation as for the first time I witnessed that I’m able to create something that helps me learn and engage people in conversations that I otherwise might have not found. Combining the mythical – the riddles of my psyche in context to the collective psyche and nature – with conceptual thinking aka the abstract is something I’m interested in ever since. I admire Walter Benjamin, yet, I feel like I want to disagree, when he says that “the mythical” has to be removed from art. After all my years of studying media theory and narration studies I believe that might even be impossible.