When I think of the essence of painting, this is the image I see: a hand holding the paint brush, paint on the palette, the hand rising up to the canvas. This is such an elemental act, almost primitive, and yet the reality that appears on the canvas is of a mysterious, uncanny nature. The profound thrill of seeing this new, virtual world appear on the canvas in front of one’s eyes is what keeps me and countless other painters working against all odds.
Written and woven by brush marks, the painting is a transcription of the world through the mind of the artist. The dither of these hand-made marks gives painting its resonance, liveliness and individuality. The painting is, as it were, stitched by our very hands. In a paradoxical sense, a painting is a static, arrested image of the time flow, a fully alive yet perfectly still image, around which time flows like water around a rock in the river. I want time to slow and stop in my paintings. These things are important to me; I see my paintings as an homage to the art of painting itself.
Presence in Time
My painting technique is relatively simple. I use single pigment paints and very little medium. I love working alla prima, and my whole quest in capturing that elusive “art of painting” holy grail has been in finding ways to effectively apply this spontaneous, forward-propelled mode of painting. I strive to reach a state of being where commitment and loyalty to the flow of work and the decisions made in each acute moment are the only option, and where revision and correction is as impossible as revisiting and changing yesterday.
Don’t look back or you will turn into a pillar of salt, they say. Nevertheless, most of my paintings are slow and painstaking accretions of corrections, reversals, reconsiderations, regrets and restorations, and quiet resignation that the vision flickering in my mind will never be captured on the canvas. Thus, the painting is a record of the quest to conjure up a certain “presence” of things. I am trying to find a heightened and intensified image of things, an image which is not quite a symbol or emblem, but the essence, ghost, memory blueprint of a thing. It is an image of palpable concreteness, yet of final inscrutability. This is how I see the world, as an enigma.
Nature and Modernity
Painting for me is also an act of devotion, an ode to Nature, represented in landscapes and flowers, and ourselves in it, mirrored in basic objects of use. As far back as I can remember, I had this overwhelming feeling of how beautiful this world is and how impermanent and endangered it is. My gaze is forever turned towards this world which I see and love. Naturally, I slowly drifted towards the language of classical realism because it so closely approximates our natural vision. There is a great humility in this language; it allows one to paint images without preconceived notions, without ulterior motives, without ego interference. It is very simple: this is the world I see, and I have no other wish but to paint it as closely as I see it. Moreover, the language of classical oil painting developed during the pre-industrial era, and for me it still carries the echo of that Golden Age, before technology changed the world forever. Just as I mourn the loss of the natural state of the environment, I mourn the loss of the earnestness, faith and hope of the classical painting which celebrated it. I see the dissonance and rejection of the concept of beauty in modern aesthetics as cries amidst the awful disruptions and loss of centre that Modernity itself created. In these perpetual creative ruins I am stubbornly attempting to paint a village garden.
I started my art education at the Art Students League in New York in 1990, and later moved to The New York Academy of Art, where I graduated MFA in 1996. In addition, I took academic painting courses at The Grand Central Atelier in New York. I also hold an MA in German Literature and Philosophy from the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität in Munich, Germany. Currently I live and work in London.