Nachrichten von Tieren und Menschen

News of Animals and Men

1995, Aquarell und Enkaustik

75 x 108 cm

In this cycle I managed for the first time to realize a metamorphosis between free flow of color composition as a major impulse of painting and the fragments of figuration which – in my imagination – were somewhat like rocks in a river, surrounded by free waters overflowing and engulfing them – interactions of the processes of pulverizing, dissolving, corroding. Yet this was not in order to destroy but to open color-potential and invention of freedom beyond forethought.

After one has been painting for a long period of time – one develops a very personal relationship with the force that makes you paint. It becomes very difficult, perhaps impossible, to speak about what was 'before' – to speak about what has been the original inspiration. There is always a 'before' but it mostly gets lost. If one talks about one's work, in a way one always says things half wrong because nothing comes from nothing.

One always has one's favorite painters. And from time to time you might be fortunate to discover one more just as you go along. It feels like meeting a friend you've known for a long time. This happened to me for instance when – thanks to John Berger – I became familiar with the work, life and philosophy of the Russian artist Ernst Neizvestny, or discovering in 1982 the paintings by Arshile Gorky at the Gulbenkian Collection in Paris. I had not known his name until then. Studying his work surely had some impact on this cycle, but more in a hidden way. Mostly, I 'digest' influences for many years until they reappear in my work. The same happened when I studied the late work of Jan Voss and Kirkeby.

Creating a new cycle is like creating a new form or a new tool. It is not that the particular cycle is finished after actually having finished it. For me, with each cycle, and even with each single good painting, a new way of seeing is born. So – to be more precise – I had to say that this  series never will be finished completely.

Beyond the rhythm between linear treatment and questions of fade-in fade-out of the figure, I found new 'neighborhoods' and temperatures of colors that I have not been using in this way before. This was a new quality in my attitude, somewhat like a new sound in your musical scores or on your guitar; a worthwhile discovery.

© 2021 Jeff Beer

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