Gerhard Richter turned 82 on February 9. This post is a little celebration of the man and his wondrous ways of creating.
Some weeks ago SBS TV re-screened Corinna Belz’s award-winning 2012 documentary, Gerhard Richter Painting.
Belz spent three years as an observer in Richter’s Cologne studio capturing mesmerizing footage of the artist producing his radical abstract works. As we witness him mixing layer upon layer of bold primary colors, smearing the wet paint with a giant squeegee and scraping at the surfaces of the canvases, Richter’s masterpieces appear before our eyes. “You get the feeling the paintings are staring at you,” says Belz, who met the painter while filming his vibrant pixelated stained glass window for the Cologne Cathedral. “There’s a physicality to Richter’s paintings. I wanted the viewer to become immersed in the subtly suspenseful cycle of the process.”
As I watched I scribbled down a few droplets of Richter’s wisdom that resonated deeply with me … all the quotes below are from this wonderful film, from the mouth of the man himself. Enjoy!
You can’t explain a painting in words.
Painting is another way of thinking.
I’m always at a loss. That’s not the problem.
If chance had taken me elsewhere, I’d love it there.
Painting is a secretive business.
As a painter I “let go” in secret.
To paint under observation is the worst thing there is. Worse than being in hospital.
I act differently.
I create something I must respond to – until there’s nothing left to do.
Truth is the quality of what’s “good.”
This is such fun!
Images © Gerhard Richter sourced from a selection of public galleries.
(A very subjective selection, based on my adoration of colour and texture.)
Piet Mondrian: The Red Tree (Evening) 1908 – 1910
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Look outside at the sleeping tree there. Who sees the tree?
… Does a body do the seeing or does awareness, consciousness, life see it? What sees the tree? Consciousness? – or a body-centered custodian of consciousness?
Where is the tree? Fifty-seven feet removed from a body-oriented ego-container of awareness, a judge who likes or dislikes what he sees? – or is the tree within awareness? Is the seeing of the tree the activity of a separate-from-the-thing-I-see recipient-of-life, a so-many-year-old male or female pump filled organism who looks out through bloodshot eyes and answers to the name of Bill? – or could it be that it is Deity being the “seeing”?
Indeed, isn’t it just possible that Isness, Reality, God, is the seer “seeing” and being the seen? Could it just be that “seeing” itself is the identity “we” are?
Could we be Life itself rather than the recipient of it? Indeed we can! We are!
- William Samuel, The Awareness of Self-Discovery
In order to understand the true meaning of Abstract Art,
we have to conceive of ourselves as a reflex (reflection) of reality.
This means we have to see ourselves as a mirror in which reality reflects itself.
- Piet Mondrian
Image source: www.pietmondrian.info
Zebras: July 22
When I look at this photograph of zebras, when I feel love for them, I become them: I enter their stripes, feel their taut flesh, their muscled bodies, the flanks, the legs, the soft nostrils.
I cannot hold myself apart from them long enough to experience it as love of other. When I love one of these zebras, I am reveling in my own delineated skin, my four points of contact with the earth, the tail of long hair soft at the backs of my behind legs.
Who made this animal? And why? Why on earth – why in a whole universe – such whimsy? What got into somebody’s head, to mark me thus?
When one zebra looks at another, it is not amazed at what it sees. Probably the looker little supposes that it looks much the stripy same as the other fellow. But even if it knew about its own appearance, this knowledge would not impress the zebra.
I can feel the other zebra’s head resting in the middle of my back, where its undermouth sinks into the curve of my spine. Its weight is deeply satisfying. And I can feel the weight of my own chin sunk heavily into the other zebra’s welcoming back, and holding the weight of my striped head (though I do not know that it is striped). I can smell the other, and the other can smell me. I’ve lost track of which is which.
Don’t try to figure it out. It isn’t important. Nor is it worth any effort at all to tell where zebra stops and human starts.
- Jan Frazier
When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening
Ed: I have no way of knowing what picture Jan was looking at when she wrote this piece; the image here is by photographer Nina Papiorek.
Whangarei, Aotearoa-New Zealand
No Beginning No End Of Beginning (detail)
6 panels, each 92 x 61 cm, PVC and Acrylic on canvas
The studio is the place where there are few rules and so my practice is based on the question ‘what will happen if’’? Trying to pin down the opposites of figure and ground is fraught with the frustration of trying to solve a nonsensical problem, however, I have discovered that the language of paint is such a subtle and magical thing that it is able to speak for me. The energy I bring to the painting studio is transmuted into the work itself and becomes the life of the paint. Each time I lay down a colour, spread and mingle different tones, explore the effects of texture and make decisions about presentation, I am becoming the paint itself and it becomes my voice. There develops an awareness that the paint, the painting and the painted merge into one and the sense of separateness dissolves. The clear PVC sheet becomes a membrane, a thinly spread division between the temporal and spiritual, which then dissolves because it too, is empty.
- Barbara O’Sullivan
Continue reading at Barbara’s page in the artisans’ gallery
Source: Extracts from “Painting the Paradox of Emptiness” – Barbara O’Sullivan’s dissertation for her Master of Fine Arts Degree. This document can be downloaded from the artist’s website, and is highly recommended.
Images and text © copyright Barbara O’Sullivan
This post is a small tribute to the French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, born this day, November 24, 149 years ago. Lautrec’s “immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 1800s yielded a collection of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times.” (Wikipedia)
I have tried to do what is true and not ideal.
His view of his subjects is uniquely sympathetic without being sentimental, which means he neither revels pruriently in degradation nor edits out ugliness. … there is perceptiveness, which entails empathy, but without flattery.
I paint things as they are. I don’t comment. I record.
Lautrec’s pictures of prostitutes and brothels draw on such fragile, ephemeral and unfinished effects to convey the impression of lives lived largely in a state of boredom, occasionally touched with glamour and often weighted with weariness and the apprehension of encroaching age.
A professional model is like a stuffed owl. These girls are alive.
(on women in the brothel)
I have always been a pencil.
There is always a dark and even desperate edge to the world that Toulouse-Lautrec depicts. Poverty, disease, abuse and alcoholism were the realities behind the illusion of pleasure and gaiety; but no one could capture the animation and excitement of that world as effectively as he did, without ever glossing over the perennial presence of death as its necessary and ineluctable shadow, hinted at in gaunt features and exhausted bodies.
In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new;
they see their value and their justification in this newness.
They are deceiving themselves…
And as a parting blessing:
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
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Comments are from art critic Christopher Allen in Dancing with the Demimonde, a review of the National Gallery of Australia exhibition – Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris and the Moulin Rouge.
The links below feature a selection of pages and posts on this site. Enjoy!
The purpose of art is to take the senses on a journey back to the source of perception, which is pure Awareness.
- Rupert Spira
In order to understand the true meaning of Abstract Art, we have to conceive of ourselves as a reflex (reflection) of reality. This means we have to see ourselves as a mirror in which reality reflects itself.
- Piet Mondrian
The body is a sensing instrument of consciousness. Without the body and the mind, the trees couldn't see themselves. Usually we think that we are looking at a tree, but the tree is looking at itself through us. Without this instrument, the tree doesn't get to see itself. We are the sensing instruments of the Divine.
Art is a form of supremely delicate awareness ... meaning at-oneness, the state of being at one with the object.
- D H Lawrence
The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity.
- Julia Cameron
I am not
but the Universe is Myself
- Shih T'ou AD 700 - 790
It is [the] flash of realization of not-two-ness, that is both the center and the endpoint of our human experience.
- Frederick Franck
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I’m frightened of the old ones.
- John Cage
God created the giraffe, the cat, the elephant ...
He has no real style, he just keeps trying things.
- Pablo Picasso
Slow motion opens the mind.
Smooth motion opens the heart.
Slow smooth motion
the inexplicable delight.
- Paul Reps
Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.
- Renee Magritte
The basic project of art is ... to close the gap between you and everything that is not you.
- Robert Hughes