As an artist, I am self-taught and find myself in a circle with many other artists who were not able to live out their true vocation, or only very late in life. Who knows, for example, that Vincent van Gogh actually only began his intensive artistic work in the last decade of his life.
Books and paper have been very precious to me since childhood. Perhaps precisely because there were hardly any books in my family. This could be the origin of my fascination for books. For me, making books myself is part of my life; they are certainly a cause of my mental health. Feelings can be well stored in books. When I write, paint or draw, I always return a little to my own childhood. Back to the creative power of the child.
My bread and butter job enables me and my family to make a living and gives me my artistic independence. It gives me the opportunity to write and create art in the form that corresponds to my innermost being, independent of the market.
So I don't produce for the sake of money, but knowing that the sale, the publicity, the communication with the audience is also crucial for me and my development. Art is a non-verbal communication, or rather a form of communication that can be understood across language, cultural and national boundaries. The emotional reaction of people to my images and texts are crucial for me. Ultimately, it is only through my counterpart that the effect of my work can be recognised. This is where it is decided whether the other person has been moved, touched in my innermost being by my work, just as I have been. Understanding on a deep level (Freud speaks here of the collective unconscious) ideally takes place between artist and viewer. Engaging in an artistic process requires opening up and becoming sensitive on the part of the artist as well as on the part of the viewer. The viewer deciphers my works in his heart or not at all.
This lacing up excludes the quick consumption of the book.
I came to contemporary book art through my occupation with historical book painting. By working with ink pen and brush, I discovered slowness for myself. Book painting is a very slow activity. In the course of time, I have increasingly imposed this slowness on the viewer of my books. That is why I so often wrap and tie my books in the style of Tibetan books.
This tying up excludes the quick consumption of the book. When I engage in the ceremony of opening, there is time that takes me out of my current environment to the content of the book. Only after this ritual have I arrived and can I start looking and reading.
Natural products are not flawless.
As we seem to become more and more perfect in our society, the viewer experiences rather the opposite in my books. Writing errors in my books are no reason to complain, it is like the quality of linen that creases. Natural products are not free of errors. I worked on myself, but I learned to stand by my mistakes.
The described sheets of my life cycle "unfinished stories" contain small texts, each sheet of which has no literary connection to the next. Leaf one does not belong to leaf two, and so on. The special thing is that the actual story, via the text and the images, nevertheless forms in the reader's mind. They are encoded messages, but well known to the unconscious. As soon as the leaves are shuffled anew, a completely new story emerges. By the way, the ideal book for Swabians, buy once, read often.
Thus, I have been working as a book artist for 40 years now. My development goes from handwriting in the style of the monks to contemporary painter's books. This slow development was necessary for me to find myself and my style, as far as one can do that at all.
Each of my books is a further developmental step in my artistic exploration. Even within the book, a development is clearly visible, at least in my handwritings. In it, differences in artistic expression can be seen between the first and last page. It is quite possible that it remains hidden to the viewer, but for me it is recognisable. In my books, a space-time sequence can be experienced.
The development of new books is a constantly new and long development process for me.
This factor of time can be experienced when looking at the book. I cannot see everything at once, only the successive turning of the pages opens up the space and time for me, as in real life. Turning the pages, however, also contains slowness, an element that seems almost lost today. In this respect, it would be worth considering whether the book, from an artistic point of view, does not also contain a form of sculpture, architecture or construction. The boundary between book and object is fluid. My books are always at the end of a development phase. When a book is finished, a circle is closed. Usually, however, there is already another spiritual pregnancy that involves a new project. The development of new books is a constantly new and long development process for me. I try to transfer my experiences, my experience into art and thus try to create books that I cannot buy in this way. The book space is the creative space for my work. The concept of a book is completely from one source, artistically the ideal solution.
Art also always contains the question of where I stand, and contains a position that I hold. It's not about lagging behind Picasso or another artist, but about staying young at heart in order to go one's own way. It's about facing my reality, dealing with it artistically and thus breathing and living. The crucial thing is that the artistic work I do is true for me at the moment of doing it, that it comes from within, then it becomes really good. The feeling of having to say something, of having something to say, promotes the uninterrupted flow of my artistic activity.
Inspiration, however, means to continue thinking about what has been found, not to repeat it.
For me, artistic work also involves being able to open up. But works of art are not created by me. They always have their own personal or historical antecedents. The artistic form is never unique, it is always borrowed and re-presented in a modified way through my own point of view. I believe it is always important to look at one's own culture, one's heritage, and to face the tension between old and new. We must not underestimate the role model function in the truest sense of the word of artists before us. We can still sense and feel the feelings that people had years or centuries before us. Inspiration grows out of this being addressed, out of what we have found. Inspiration, however, means to continue thinking about what we have found, not to repeat it.
In my work, I therefore always go back to the old masters, whose technique or form of representation still has a meaning for me today. In the artistic process I rethink these old experiences and fill them with my very own perception today. The dialogue with the old master gives new life to my artistic expression, an idea, a thought is carried away.
Art is not about starting somewhere where someone else has left off. Everyone has to search for, find and follow their very own path for their artistic development. This development requires the factor of time, the slowness to grow, as in nature. And everyone must become aware of his roots, must know where his home is, everyone must remember his roots again and from there let new shoots grow, with new strength and new leaves.
Colour is energy.
Sam Francis speaks of the colour that emits power. It's an experience I've had again and again in the mountains, when I've seen the deep blue aconite or the spring gentian (Gentiana verna). This blue is a blue that gives me strength, strength for life. I do believe that the luminosity of colours has an effect on people, just as the artist can influence other people through the choice of colour, for example in a painting. Colour is energy.
In addition to colour, we should not ignore the connection between colour and music. It is closer than we generally assume. Space and time, the same factors as in book art, are also decisive in music. Perhaps it is the book that is the link between the two art forms. Book and sound are two areas that belong together. The written text becomes sound when read aloud, one step further, what is read can become a song, that is one way of looking at it, the other way of thinking is the acoustically imperceptible sound of a book, which is hidden inside a book and can only be made to sound like a musical instrument when one sets a page/string in motion. Sounds can only be produced when they are struck. A thought that brings me a little closer to the connection between visual art and music.
Creativity is always something divine in us.
My religion unmistakably plays an important role in my work and is also visible in some of my works. In the past, art was always in the service of a ritual, hence of faith, of the respective religion. Creativity is always something divine in us. The creative act in art always contains something theologically divine. Art has always been, and perhaps still is today, the praise of God. But perhaps many artists have forgotten this idea. The awareness of ultimately being a shaman also belongs here.
Symbols and signs belong to the very earliest artistic expressions of man, and represent one of the primeval forms of artistic creation. Signs always have something to do with before and after and speak to both the artist and the viewer. These signs or symbolic language form another level in my texts, in which I try to make psychological processes clear by means of form and colour. The symbols come from the subconscious and again speak to the subconscious. A symbol is an archetypal representation. Especially in the illustration of a book, this creates an additional form of reading the text.
The image and the text become a visible sign of myself.
With my abstract language of signs, I have created an independent means of expression alongside text and realistic painting. Even apparent contradiction between the different language forms is possible at the same time. However, what is decisive for the work is always what it triggers in the viewer, which areas of his soul are touched. Of course, my own ego always flows into my work. The image and the text become a visible sign of myself.
In my work, I combine the real image and the abstract signs (symbols) into a unity. Lately, the factor of nature has been playing an increasingly important role, which my fatherly friend Prof. Franz Weiss (Styria/Austria) has brought closer to me.
As a book artist, I ask myself to what extent it still makes sense to illustrate a classical text again for the umpteenth time. Where is the current literature? I came to my own writing through the discovery that I had something to say. I want to record the sound of things and people in order to write about them. In doing so, I try to transfer my own experiences and feelings, my experience, into art.
The need for story is our archaic heritage.
I tell my stories in my own way, complementing the language of words with the language of images in real and abstract form. Through writing, I unconsciously try to trace the complexity of contemporary life, but also to reveal social conflicts, to make them clear. The reader is put in relation between his world and a world that is perhaps unknown to him. It is precisely at the margins of our society that the foreign, the undiscovered is to be found, what many are looking for. My work is done by perceiving certain social conditions and thus requires the state of being attentive. My texts live from external and internal observation, which I try to write down sensitively. The images, abstract or real, respond to the text, whereby the inner side of life is decisive and becomes perceptible in harmony with the text. Through the image in particular, but also through the text, I want to address the unconscious that is inherent in everyone.
My mother and grandmother still lived in an archaic peasant world, a time full of magic, perhaps that is where my exuberant imagination comes from. My ancestors were all farmers and shepherds, something of that has stuck with me. I describe my own world as I experience it, as people have always done around the campfire. The need for history is our archaic heritage.
Every thing, every situation, every human being has its history, present and further development into the future. No matter where I meet him, which point of his life I take up, a story of life always emerges. What is important is my point of view in this story, I become or am the observer, actor or I only provide the background information. But I always tell my very own story. The stories are lying on the street or sitting opposite me. There are as many stories as there are people, or even more.
Approach a painting awake and listen to what it has to tell me. Slowness, not rushing things, having time to observe and to write, that's what it takes to let a text grow. Writing is always a surprise, you never know what's coming. Writing and drawing are always interrelated.
My unfinished life stories are a collection of such taken snapshots, each of which could become a story on its own, but in context form one big story. The unfinished life stories often contain many thoughts in just one sentence. Each sentence holds a secret that one would like to uncover.
Slowness was and is essential for me, has always been a part of my life. I have always been a slow person who has not let the speed of society impose itself on me. My texts are slow stories, so repetition is part of it.
The only artistic rule is not to have rules or to break rules.
Illustration is not only the supply of images to the text. The life of the text always begins in the mind, then between the lines. I want to reproduce what I see and what I see with my heart. Part of my work is certainly also to bring the inner feelings to the outside and to communicate them. I want to bring images to life in the minds of the people who look at and read my work. My work does not obey any laws or rules of art. The only rule is not to have rules or to break rules. The aim of my handwritten texts is not beautiful writing, neatly put down on paper. Rather, I am attracted by the form of the text and at the same time by the artistic design of the book as a total work of art. This gives the book a lot of emotional power, because I write the text as I feel it. In the reading, the writing movement is reproduced.
Through the text and the illustration, I involve the reader in different worlds of perception. The dramaturgy of my pictures results from the text, but also from the pictorial language of realistic and abstract interpretation.