Expressing emotions through artistic creation was, as I initially thought, the motivating force behind my work. Yet a critical evaluation of my artistic work revealed a substantial difference between my experience and the outcome. I also grew more suspicious towards expressionist exaggeration, which seemed to develop into a pathos too easily.
It was a coincidence that I met Andersen at the Academy of Arts, which had a great impact on my work. An intellectual concept of the environment eventually replaced a rather emotionally oriented view. New horizons were opening up for me.
The line - which as such does not exist in nature - is the most abstract formal element available to an artist. At the same time it allows the most direct way of expression. A line can not only expose psychological but also physical conditions of an artist. Thus a drawing becomes his most direct creative expression.
The above ideas made me decide for the line. Its clear, spiritual message fascinated me. In order not to impair this message it was vital to avoid any shading. Using the contrast of bright and dark would have meant more realism, as that contrast results in a coherent surface. Additionally I wanted to avoid an atmosphere created by such contrast. By concentrating on the mere line a transparent body - seemingly of glass - emerges. In such a body the various elements pervade each other and form an organic unity at the same time.
In a second approach I tried to find the basic structure. I wanted the transparency to fade in favor of architecture. Consequently I got an almost geometric layout of a body, in which the resulting axes were accentuated. That was the point when the experiment became interesting again. The realistic reminiscences of the beginnings ended up in a three-dimensional body.
It gradually became my artistic intention to express the inter-relationship between the torso and the limbs of a body in various positions. My distance from the nude drawing had thus become considerable. The essential characteristics could take the place of the realistic image. The road towards abstraction was open.
The transition from the 1960s to the 1970s posed without doubt a very important question: What is the position of art, what can it communicate to our present society, and what impact does technology have on art? In my view, art had reached a crossroads. The use of paint brushes and other conventional utensils seemed to be reminiscent of primeval times, as the use of computers and similar technical devices in fine arts were so to speak at the doorstep. In this situation installations were one logical consequence for artists. Installations were a logical consequence of critically observing technology, sometimes leading into the absurd, however, the installations' social aspect focused on the human condition. Nevertheless I continued working with paintbrush and canvas, as I believe that creativity of mankind, including techniques such as painting, is capable of producing new creations continuously.
Within this context I decided to integrate pipes, technical products, into my work. Their rigid character, their coarse connections by means of sleeves or fittings were strangely appealing. In combination with color, pipes convey a painting's tension determined by geometry. Moreover, painting pipes gave me the opportunity to ironically link technical elements with parts of the human body like breasts or mouths. Consequently pipes also had sexual connotations. The three-dimensional pipes can appear twodimensional in a painting, whereas their connections can be left to seem three-dimensional. This formal principle opens up a surreal aspect.
A variety of combinations suggests that forms and relationships between them (these forms) can emerge into a technical constellation similar to objects designed for space travel. In the final phase of painting pipe constructs I worked with the abstract form - an elongated rectangle and the circle of its opening. Reducing the image to mere geometry meant that the initial shape of a pipe and its right-angle elbow connection conveyed only a fraction of the original realism.
Following that period I returned to the basic formal elements of fine arts, the dot, line and area, their rhythm, i. e. the relation of their proportions to each other, the contrast of bright and dark, and color in all its contrasts. Now I painted strips of different shades or of colors flowing into each other like those in a spectrum, which contrasted with large monochrome areas. The resulting interaction of colors was of an amazing diversity. At the same time the paintings referred to what happens when an observer looks at a painting or a graphic work of fine art.
UNO declared 2002 the International Year of the Mountains. This is the reason why I would like to introduce the visitors of my virtual gallery to those of my works that are dedicated to the world of mountains.
Lienz, the place where I spent my school years and youth, is situated at the convergence of the crystalline complex and the Calcareous Alps with their different structures, their different shapes. Already as a child the mountains were mysterious to me. I could not imagine what lay beyond them. I certainly experienced their gigantic hugeness and their manifold beauty which changes constantly due to the sunlight or to climatic and seasonal conditions. Yet I also regarded the mountains a permanent threat. Just think of rockfall, mudflows, avalanches and the like. This contradictory experience influenced all my attempts to artistically express the overwhelming impression the mountains left on me.
On the one hand there were the clear, distinct crystalline shapes, on the other hand there was tectonic deformation. The diversity of structures impressed me again and again. In limestone the structural characteristics are totally different from those in the crystalline complex. Various associations were evoked; I saw heads and faces in the rocks’ shapes, then again their impressive hugeness, their power, and their apparently unchanging firmness in a constantly changing world were the basis for my work.
Whenever I returned to my studio in Vienna after staying in East Tyrol for some time, I felt that I had to find artistic solutions to express the experiences I had made in the mountains as clearly as possible. First I tried to reach this aim by abstraction. To my amazement my works changed radically. Abstraction was replaced by concentration on miniature structures. Already in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when I had been working in Thal, I had discovered the fascination of these miniature structures. I had discovered the interrelation of macro- and microcosm. Hence I managed to transfer my imaginations, my view of the world around me into paintings much more easily. My new insight into atomic structures, which basically are similar to structures in space, led to new artistic interpretations, which in turn made me leave the subject of stones, rocks and mountains aside.
Some of my mountain paintings are reproduced in the 2002 annual of OEAV (Oesterreichischer Alpenverein).
In the early 50s I first produced brush-drawings in Indian ink. Due to its two-dimensional character the brush-drawing - contrary to drawings made with metal and reed quills - rather evokes the impression of a painting and allows a clearer, more compact form.
After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts I lived on a farm high up in the mountains near Assling, East Tyrol, for several years at the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s. It was then that I first tried to transform impressions gained from nature into free, structural, very dynamic lineament with a number of pointed-quill-drawings.
After some moves, which involved psychological changes, I resumed quill drawing - which I had neglected for some time - during stays in Greece and Holland in the seventies again. These drawings were still inspired by experiencing landscape. In them there is a tendency towards both concentration and dissolution of form, graphic structures are their determining factor. In the 80s I pursued these structural principles. The brush-drawings of that time detached themselves more and more from the mountain motives and became expressive in themselves.
The mere interrelation of dot, line and area within a drawing was enriched by the realization that stronger and clearer contrasts as well as less dissolved forms met my new artistic intentions.
The velvety black of the Indian ink made my memories take on a pictorial form. Via meditation I could access my inner self, and consequently I could make thinking in pictures vividly visible. Optical impressions and verbal thinking were overcome, I arrived at forms which are characterized by great clearness, which sometimes seem associative, but which can also be totally unfamiliar and surprising.
The beginning of that artistic procedure was marked by an exhibition of Japanese drawings in Indian ink, especially of two long roll-up pictures. They showed arabesques, i. e. intertwining leaves, fruits and twigs. The first picture was a subtle image of reality, the second one showed ink spots, which seemed arbitrarily set. Yet these spots turned into intertwining fruits, leaves and twigs looking at them more closely. The creator of this work had absorbed nature in a meditative process so long that it became an indelible part of his memories. This enabled him to create things anew from what he had originally looked at.
To me, my drawings are symbols for coming and going, emerging and fading. I intentionally do not give my paintings any restrictive titles, because I don't want to influence the viewer to see and experience pictures in a certain, pre-determined way. He should be able to use his own creative potential when looking at and evaluating any work of art.
Since I do not want to make my brush-drawings appear too absolute, I have not used white paper for quite some time. I avoid the extreme and absolute contrast of black and white. Colored paper takes away the harsh and absolute contrast of black and white and leaves the viewer with more freedom in encountering me and my work.
My first prints were made in absolutely improper technical conditions. However, I was interested in the technical process as such and its resulting creative possibilities, which give graphic arts a very particular significance.
Due to the technical inadequacies mentioned above the artistic result of my first endeavours in prints was rather moderate. But despite the technical deficiencies of the prints I did not have the heart to just discard them.
Almost twenty years after these prints were originally made I worked them over in black acrylic paint. The aim was to use the existing format and its composition and to amend it in order to create a new entity.
Symbolic additions differing in their artistic realization led to completely new interpretations of the individual motives, which were thus given a new frame of reference.
Consequently the prints as the origin of the work take a back seat and become an integral part of the new composition, in which the delicateness of the graphic enters a vivid dialogue with the robust acrylic paint.