Dienstag, 8. März 2016

Reisen zum Ende - und zurück

 "Reisen zum Ende und Zurück"
   my most unusual and personal exhibition

In the early spring of 2012 I got the diagnosis: very agressive cancer in the lower part of my body...  Estimated survival chance: hardly more than 10 %...immediate operation(s) required, and so on..

The first big operation only hours
away - may be, the last picture?
3 bad years later, the sixth
chemo is on, still some hair

After 3 severe operations (each ca. 5 hrs), numerous smaller ones and 6 very hard chemo-treatments, on thursday, february the 18th, 2016 I returned to the main hospital - not as a patient but as an artist. It was the day of the opening of my latest exhibition, which at the time being  still ion show: "Voyageing to the end - and back", as it is called, will be running until the 24 th of may. Here some views of that show, which is built upon 2 different artists books, both from completely different times and situations in my life, but nevertheless  in many ways related: 

Above: A double side from the sketchbook I used in Kerguelen
Below: A double side from the Hospital Miracle Book

Both feature the same genuine ink paint technique and both were made in a situation of livethreatening circumstances; in the Kerguelenbook it was the extremeness of nature itself and the absolute lonelyness of that place,  exposure to winds that often can reach 200 km/h, no safeguard possible as soon as you leave the area of Port au Francais, and - remember- no GPS in those days! In the Hospital Miracle Book it was the extreme nature of the illness - cancer ..

The first one is called "Voyage en Kerguelen"an artists diary from an expedition to the " Kerguelen archipelago", a french overseas resort, situated down in the subantarctique regions with very harsh weather conditions. In those days it was  mostly visited by french scientists and young volunteers, who thus could avoid the military service. Twice a year  the "Marion Dufresnes", a 200 m vessel, sails down there from Réunion, via Isle de Crozet, a 7 days journey through heavy seas....

The book and the paintings on silk paper, that are shown in the exhibition, were made 25 years ago, directly on location! On three different hiking tours there (each lasting 12 days) I used my very own calligraphique inktechnique, because it needs only the adding of water and thus saves weight! While on board and in the station, I painted on light japanese silkpaper...

First impression, still on board
The ship: "Marion Dufresnes"

 Note: Nobody hunted this whale, I painted it, while it was chasing another, much bigger whale (together with a few other orcas)! The picture must have been done in a bit over 3 minutes!

Huge rock at the beach
Sometimes you see ice even in summer
First week in Port au Francais, we prepaired for longer tours: "Manipes" they´call them in Kerguelen. I had to speed up, update and adjust my painting technique

I had already made several abstract artists books with my special technique at home - but still there´s a big difference in using it, once you´re in such an environment: You don´t have much time..

In the exhibition, the Kerguelen images are presented as 2 pairs beside the patientroom doors
 We even got a short heli- flight: first views of the remoter parts of the island from a higher top near by

In very good weather conditions we saw Mont Ross, the Pyramide Branca, and Rallier du Baty in the distance! Luxury: Just a few hours to walk down and back!

 Rain in Kerguelen is an inevitable part of trekking!
We were extremely lucky,though:

During our weeks of walking, we had exceptional fair conditions: Very little rain - , no snow, just heavy winds and even sunshine for half a day! But there were a few nights, when we thought, our little shelter might get blown away - with us inside!

The coastline is spectacular..

..and extremely varied..

..but down at the beach you´ll find the true sensation: enormous monsters creeping from the sea

Early in the morning just before leaving Port au Francais, on the first manipe, I quickly fixed this morningscene on paper. It shows what  this technique can create with only one fluid and water.

Already on the boat to Presqu´Isle Jeanne d`Arc I made this last painting on japanese silkpaper. From now on I painted in a sketchbook (A-4 size) with thick paper, to speed the drying process up.

The exhibition shows some photographs I made on those tours, in 2 large frames.  One of them features the original article, that my dear friend, the late Kjartan Àrnason, wrote for the biggest Icelandic newspaper, shortly after my return: Very funny and well written musings about the similarity and the differences of those two islands. "Are There Penguins In Iceland?"

For most people, Kerguelen
is unheard of and unseen 

 To honour my departed friend I
made a German translation, too


Above the painting I made of Doigt St. Anne and the penguin colony 25 years ago

Here a photograph I found on the internet (not my copyright) of this exceptionel volcanic rockformation(134 m) 

Beside the 32 original paintings on silkpaper there are 10 digital Serichroma artprints from the Kerguelenbook on show - you can hardly see any difference, but they cost less!

 Why it was necessary to reproduce these books? It´s quite obvious: I didn´t want to rip the originals apart! That´s why you now can buy complete reprints of the 2 books (a total of 300 images) at the exhibition.

The 2nd book is called "Hospital Miracle Book"made basically with the same  technique, but in addition it features cut-outs from illustrated journals as well. This post shows some of those images (as digital Serichroma art prints), the way they are exhibited in the very hospital, where they´ve been made -
which is something I never heard of before and indeed very unusual!

Most of these images were originally made on the 6. floor in the hospital " Klinikum am Steinenberg", Reutlingen, where they now are exhibited, too!

There, I had this small book (Din -A-4) with me, which I painted, drew, cut out  and glued in, on almost every day, that wasn´t totally killing  me.., yet,...so to speak...

 "Drop it" (p.v.) The titel refers to hundreds of droplets, either drawn or cut out...

You´ll find t
he  same artistic elements in all of these pictures: First there is a sort of background  painted with ink, in colourhues reaching from pitchblack, dark- and lightblue to scarlet, orange, yellow and even green -
done with the same black looking fluid, a special calligraphic ink, mixed by myself.

"Spidergod" refers mostly to the metamorphosis your body, mind and soul will undergo in a cancertreatment: there will be a "new you" (if you survive, that is..) Still, you may feel, that  somewhere inside, you are the same person, as well...

Next came the adding of lots of forms and circular patches or globes, that could have all sorts of contents and meanings. They were usually cut out from all those strange newspapers with funny names, that you find at hospitals, while waiting for your next treatment..In this case it was a rather outdated, used example of a sleezy PC - magazine (with spiderman on the cover) that inspired me, right away!

"Labyrinth" expresses some of  the psychadelic experiences you might have, trying to findyour real self again, after they used all those narcotics on you. Heavy operations, which can last   several hours, might send you off to very special corners of your mind...sometimes you´ll feel totally lost or upside down..

There are two other graphical elements that you can find in all of the images: ever changing dynyamical lines, drawn with a black feltpen and the opposite of it: white pencil lines of all sorts, changing their character from image to image.

 The maeandering black lines that you´ll find in almost all of those images, are by no means pure aesthetic abstract lines or hieroglyphes                                              
   The pictures here are showing where those lines come from, originally : "Streetgraphic" exists in reality on the asphalt near the hospital! I found it surprisingly attractive - that´s why I used it for some photographic compositions and drew similar lines into the  "Hospital Miracle Book"  

In the beginning "Traffic" probably was inspired by exactly those lines, 
just mentioned above. Too: Even in hospital you hear trafficsounds, all the time, vagely, from a far... So, specially when you can hardly move at all, there might surface a strange longing: To be able to be part of the moving life, again..

 In all those extremely horizontal compositions, you´ll always find some main element, that´ll break that overall direction and "jumps into your face": here it´s the "wheel". 
This gives the images an unexpected  element of spacial depth !

"Viel zu viel" is about soaring above the usal state of things - I did that a lot, in hospital...You can see a lot of things that are sort of  connected to"flying": Birds, pollen, beetles, an angel, an aeroplane, a balloon, lovers and  so  on..

It´s dedicated to the German surrealist Max Ernst - the "eaglehead" of his famous "birdman" is in there! I´ve always admired him and even seen him in person, once.. It is the largest work on show (ca. 2.30 m x 1,40 m), printed on " Büttenpaper" and there are 2 circular patches with 3-D effect added to it, which makes it a unique work, allthough it´s basically just a  sophisticated digital high resolution  artprint. It´s the only work that has been shown in the last exhibition. 
"Mad" , the title of this work, of course implicates the english word for being crazy. But here I took the word from a danish magazine: it means "food" 

in general, is a huge item during a chemotherapy: How much will I be able to eat today? 
A lot of things, even your favorite dish will taste or smell horrible: You just can´t eat it
 - it can make you mad in the end - and weak with hunger!
The meaning of "Kribbel-Schwabbel" relates to the creepy and annoying phenomena of numb limbs: It occurs a lot because of  certain medication or when you are not able to change your position in bed over a longer period of time..

 "Kribbel-Schwabbel" and "Mukke" - like all the works ot this series - have very different structures in their background, they too have something in common: They´rpacked with evocative items, which enables the viewer to find meaningful new details all the time.You can´t remember them completely, ever. 
"Mukke" is German slang for "music".The word is used by my kids, whom I so missed in hospital. The organpipes, relate to my  daughter, who is an organist.

The theme of this image is quite obvious: music, or rather - the absence of it.. Of course, 
you´ll have no problem to get hold of music in a hospital, nowadays. The problem is your hearing abilities! Often they suffer - you start to hear badly, or the pitchnotes are just one horrible screech! In my case the joy and urge of listening to rythmically complex patterns (that I usually live out extensively) left me totally.

"Panzerwelt" needs no translation. It´s the 1st page of the book- and connects it with the very last page: In " Viel zu Viel" you´ll find the beetles` missing legs.
Note: Here in the beginning of the book the spacial element hasn´t  emerged, yet...

" Waterworld " is just another "hospital-phenomena": all those fancy, shiny, glossy cranes! They´re covered with drops and mirror and distort your face, even further! That face may have changed already through illness and medication! Too, there can be a longing to be able to submerge your body completely into water again! Alas! That may first be possible many  months after the operation!

All of this works are special high resolution Serichroma artprints taken from the Hospital Miracle Book. As they have been retouched by my own hand (mostly in the center part where the two book pages were meeting), they are now true  "unicates", one of a kind, each. This middleline is hardly felt pageing through the book. But framed, and enlarged to this size, it disturbs the composition.
  Since my childhood days the word "Orient"  always was synonimous for exotic beauty to me: strangely beautiful ornaments, mystic erotic tales and so on... Explosions are more recent, though.The butterfly again is an age old symbol for the transformation of ugliness into beauty - May this be true for the orient, soon!

None of the images or their themes have been planned beforehand. There is a lot of coincidence in the way they´ve emerged: what  possible cut-outs did I come across today, do they fit in with the  given background, which constellation of pictures could  be meaningfull given my current circumstances and feelings ...
"Shutterfly" is a no-sense-title, but it  implicates "photography" and "butterfly": Sometimes image-ideas are like butterflies: beautiful, but hard to catch, you have to be quick! True in photographing, too: Be ready to push the shutter, at any time!

 Not only was Max Ernst the first to make collagebooks: He even stated that these book prints are the "genuine" artworks, not the originals! His main reason being: On prints you can hardly detect the cut-outs. I found that to be totally true!
 Anyway, for me, printing was the only way to show these images without having to take the original book apart! Too, I think we live in "digital" times! So why not use those limitless possibilities in size and colours? I´m sure: Max would have !

"Siddhartha" shows what the Hospital Miracle Book was in the first place: A  therapy, a diary, that took my mind  away from the hard reality around me! made Siddhartha (a great book) as a reminder to the author´s 50-th dying day. 
As seen above, this whole project has it´s predecessors. But, I think I´ve found a rather new angle, too: Not only is the connection of inkpainting and collage hardly to be found, ever; it´s proofed to be very practical in a hospital given the poor circumstances for painting..But the idea of  rather illustrating your state of mind as a cancerpatient, than just bodyconditions or the hospital you´re in, is new, too.

If you´ve read and seen all of this so far, I thank and salute you! 

Still, there is one more thing left for me to say: My intentions for this project are not purely aesthetical  - I also want to make a statement of encouragement to all cancer patients out there!  That´s why I would like to show these images in other hospitals and explain them there personally, too!   So, if you have connections or possibilities in that direction - please, contact me! And of course: send the link of this blog out to everybody that you think might like or need it!

Dienstag, 28. April 2015

The opening/Die Vernissage Gartenstrasse 4.18.2015

The artist, just a minute before the first visitors arrive...

...first: some classical music - old and new: thanks to Thomas....
..and Veit....

....then the obligatory speech and many listeners...

.... they seemed to be rather entertained....

.....the official speech had to be short: the place was too crowded..

... then there was time to say " hello"...
 to contemplate - or to look at the artworks ..