I'm painting right now and observing myself: What goes through my head, what I think about when I paint. I paint large two-dimensional forms with a large, wide brush, but also fine lines. These are structures that are replaced by individual settings. I am more and more concerned with sensitivity and precision in the application of the paint with the brush, the spreading on the canvas or here on the paper, the spontaneous action and the process that is represented by it. In the background music by Philipp Glass "Facades". The whole thing just gives me a feeling of hope, the great power at the bottom of melancholy, as an antipole to the non-existence of being, which I cannot perceive as such. In the moment of painting I feel myself and understand existence through what I do and therefore am. And I see this in the spread of a white spot, its shape on a broken green background. There is exactly the subject that interests me. Sometimes I want to formulate it very precisely, to record it in a linguistic form that is more comprehensible than it appears in colour. But of course that is not possible in this way: the beautiful is the picture and the beautiful is the colour, if it works, if it has an immediate effect through the senses. Clear simple colours, that is what I am looking for. There are the moments of the deeply broken, the melancholic being in me, the laziness, the boredom, the hopelessness, the senselessness of painterly doing, the non-existence, the unbelievable. And then there is the moment when it works, the confirmation when it works.
The question of painting is not which colour the existing picture demands, but my impulse must define itself in relation to the existing. Thus discussion, dissonance, resonance, a relationship between the existing pictorial space and the momentary intervention, a reaction, a solving, an appearance at the moment of painting in relation to the existing colour tree: space, system, line, solo are musical ideas of improvisation, of allowing relationships to fade away. And again and again the question of my own place, the space I have to take up, the space the blue needs or the red when it spreads out on the yellow space. The background, the existing image, is a space. I always react to a colour space. And I intervene with a line, a point, a system, with a surface, a destruction, in other words something motivated from within me, I take up a counter-position, one that is different from the space. I enter into communication with the colour space through the moment of setting. This inevitably creates a tension, which sometimes lasts and is good, but often dissolves, fades, dilutes, adapts and in the long run does not hold the tension. In this way different qualities are created. It is never about, and this is important to me, pursuing a creative methodology. Although the techniques used are certainly shaped by formal experiences, I am definitely not interested in formal investigations: no working off of possibilities, no declining, no conjugating versions, of constellations, but always in the moment of the new intervention, the new idea. And the idea is nothing more than the current standpoint as a painter. From this living position any form emerges and is therefore pure content. It emerges from the consciously experienced, the forgotten, the unconscious, the not yet known, the sensually experienced, as a clear statement against repetition, against system, against working through themes, techniques and tricks and above all against chance, which always wants to reach out its hand to me at the moment of painting. Coincidence enchants, confuses and is my strongest challenge and inspiration, but it also challenges me again and again to define and represent myself in the moment of doing. In other words, the paint on the brush goes onto the paper, onto the colour space and represents a singular, an isolated spot of colour, a line, a glaze, a figuration that asserts itself against space. Basically: figure and space, as a deeply autobiographical theme; against the randomness of being I set my autobiography. Through my painterly working line, a sense of meaning emerges, which defines me as a self, but also as a human being, as a social being, as a political being, in the group. Whereby my motivation arises mainly from a melancholic, ego-feeling being. I paint with the great hope of discovering something new. Painting is thus a process and documentation at the same time, which forms a kind of person, an artistic person. In the moment of painting, the picture is actual, the space is tangible. A now is created, which dries with the paint, becomes the past, the picture.
The image is a document of past existence, the colour space is an interpreted image. Painting is the timeless creation of a new now. This cycle is the artistic process, an autobiographical process that confirms itself, criticises itself, tries to be open in the moment of creation. My criteria are: Boredom, coincidence, space, rhythm, sound, landscape, illusion, balance, contrasts. The criteria of the observer basically originate from his own observation, his position towards society, therein art, therein different artistic forms, therein painting as a formal colourful experience of different forms and techniques. The own experience, the own perception interprets, feels directly and tries to understand, to explore, is superficial, feels challenged to look behind the surface. Repeated glances are provoked, associations arise, connections to others, to the pictures in the bag that you have brought with you.
The reference to my autobiography creates a self-conscious mirror into which the viewer looks. This mirror remains unfathomable, especially in its openness and critical faculty, impenetrable, indecipherable and thus a work of art.
13.11.13 Axel Plöger
The narrative in painting:
Space and time and surface, line and form.
In comparison to narrative arts such as literature, film or music, painting and the picture are simultaneous. The viewer is directly confronted with the sum of the elements, without the possibility of a time-based experience. From this immediate wholeness and the total sensory impression he has to understand the picture in its motives and components in his own time and occupation. The totality provides the stimulus and represents the entrance and contact surface through which the viewer enters and experiences the relationship weights and rhythms of the picture for himself.
Beginning and end are up to the subjective perception. An analytical separation of the elements is impossible. Thus, dramaturgical forms such as prologue, prelude, introduction, climax, conclusion, conclusion, main theme of a sonata, or other lyrical forms are impossible. This immediacy is the living characteristic of painting and awakens the appeal of looking with the senses.
Thus, in the process of painting there is a compression of elements, layers and forms, which flow into a picture as a means even without claiming any function in the overall picture. Much is painted over and forgotten, in the painterly sense, and yet contributes to the sensual intensity and materiality of the picture. The end of the process is the picture. As an open surface immediate, rigid in presence and tension. Mostly related to lyrical short forms such as two to three line verses or simple sounds and their chords. The whole work can be grasped at a glance. Perceptible, sensual and physically present without even a moment of understanding having taken place. This pleasurable process of consciousness as an observer begins with the picture and occupies the viewer again and again, not in the sense of a decoding and symbolic interpretation, but a phenomenological contemplation of the picture.
To have no words for what one sees, that is the language of painting.
10.10.19 Axel Plöger
About complexity and simplicity
There are works that are formed from two or three postures and have enormous power. In their openness and reduction they can provoke the viewer. Their successful colourfulness, however, invites the viewer to perceive the painter's basic activity. My ideal is this self-confident, experienced realisation, which can manifest itself in a few strokes and is irrevocable in its poetic simplicity. This simplicity makes it clear where the emphasis lies in art and does not give the viewer unnecessary, distracting illusions. I am happy when an idea can be perceived sensually and it is especially the simplicity that manages to refer the viewer to only two or three colour areas. The problems here are of course the critical attitude and the necessary sensitivity, but the viewer must obviously be confronted with this. For me, it is the moment of endurance, the perception of power, to arrive at this clear setting. Saying something in one or two sentences that one could perhaps paraphrase in two pages of text, but which can be understood immediately in a clear setting. The contemporary image is reduced, sets A against B and thus perhaps already reflects our whole being.
On the other hand, complex layers, condensations, overlappings, narratives, journeys emerge, which strongly go beyond the moment, which quite deliberately create colour contrasts, which cannot be left to the moment, cannot only arise now. These pictures are created through the influence of time, of complex time periods, of changes. They unite contradictions, fluctuating positions, different characters, different materialities of colours and form a narrative character: they hide, overlap, arise from deposits of time (as in Per Kirkeby), between different systems (as in Albert Oehlen) or through intellectual strategies (as in Gerhard Richter). The result is symphonies with an enormous density of experiences, which are constantly rearranging themselves to each other, keeping the observer in motion and keeping themselves open. These are the complex, the condensed pictures with ten or thirty layers on which I paint over weeks, which absorb both the malignancy, the mallust, the disappointment, the frustration, the aimlessness into a more complex, superordinate picture of my actions. So the pure painting shows itself both in the moment and in the more complex time-oriented composition. To make the poetic eye of perception comprehensible and reflect the complexity of the world. There is this contradiction and longing for both one and the other, and it is only a moment when I leave the simple and the painting reaches a new more complex status. Somewhere in between there is a melody, a few notes, a two-line, a poem. It is doubt that creates the complex structure and it is the awareness and certainty that sustains and carries the simple.
13.11.13 Axel Plöger
The Sound of Images
Interview with Andreas Fuchs (12.2.21)
Axel Plöger: I have always looked for that in the pictures, this powerful freedom as in de Kooning's work and then to set this clear frame against it.
Andreas Fuchs: Do you mean the frame in the sense of events or the frame in the sense of enclosing the picture?
AP: Yes, the frame in the sense of events and framing of the picture. The frame is the encounter with the space in which I exhibit, with the viewers. There is a very external form that counteracts the picture.
AF: Whereby the frame also limits.
AP: Yes, it's this effect, you know when you mask something off in painting and then a free structure comes over it, a very moving story, and then you take the masking off again and then you have a very clear edge. Something happens there. Or even if you put a white frame over a picture and cut something out with it, something happens, at that moment you put the focus on a detail of the picture and it gets a very strong form from the outside. Through the demarcation, through a focus that is set.
AF: But if you put a passe-partout over it and focus on one aspect of the picture, then you cover the rest - under this passe-partout the picture continues. And that's exactly what I mean, I had wondered a lot: At the last exhibition "Stark" (LKB, Eichenmüllerhaus 2020) your wonderful pictures were hanging there in the corner and then Axel suddenly came and put a frame around the pictures. Then I thought that there was no need for a frame for your pictures, because they are designed in such a way, or at least these pictures were, that they can be thought further over the edge of the frame.
AP: I think it's just so good. The frame gives the pictures more power. It is precisely this demarcation, this focus, that is the moment of specification, of what I mean. Of course, the picture goes beyond that. I arrive here in the studio, my pictures begin at some point and end at some point. It can be a process of months. And I do it on several works at the same time. It's a process like a network full of ideas and feelings. But I set such frames to create statements.
AF: So that means that you are signalling: the process is over for this specific situation.
AP: Yes, I am signalling: this is my precise statement, this is exactly what I want. Of course I can continue to paint the picture. But the fact that it has just come to an end in this state or that it has been stopped as a kind of present-day shot, that only happens because I want to formulate something at this moment. Because I say: this is my picture now. This is my song. There has to be decision and also precision for me. That's what the viewer sees, what he should see. There is a very clear decision, even if much else in my work is chaotic, emotional and autobiographical. This is an important moment, precisely because I have a very intuitive, often grossly motoric way of painting with broad palette knives and thick brushes. Not every painting has to have an actual frame, especially if you have slightly thicker stretcher bars and rough canvas, then it looks so good. But the essence of the frame is the precise statement.
AF: When several pictures come together, that is, a second one appears at a distance of ten centimetres, that one sits next to it, and then there is another one above it. A dialogue, a conversation develops between these images. As a recipient, you compare them, you look at how they are made, are there similarities and how do they speak to each other. Is that then also a conscious setting and does this frame as a reference to the independent position of each picture help to continue this dialogue or is it perhaps also a bit of a hindrance?
AP: No, the hanging is the continuation of the frame, of the clear cut-out. There is the picture, there is the frame, then comes the wall and then comes the space. Of course I have to look carefully, do I have two or three on the wall now, and I would always tend towards clear geometrical arrangements to reinforce this strength of the frame through the hanging. The clearer the hanging, the more powerful the painting in the pictures.
There are also many colleagues who paint on the frame, paint beyond the picture. I could do that too, of course. In that sense, I could also leave out the canvas and apply the paint directly to the wall, but that would not be something that suits me. The painting happens in the pictures, that's my internal process in which I move and precisely that is a liberating and important moment for me when I put such a clear structure over it. I really need that, it is a support in all this decision-making and also a demarcation in the presentation to the audience.
AF: You speak
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)