Things seen - Helmut Federle

Japanische See im Mondlicht (Japanese Sea in Moonlight), 2009
acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50 cm

There is currently an exhibition of five small paintings by Helmut Federle at Peter Blum Gallery in New York. Sadly I won´t be able to see them in the flesh. There is a very good interview with him in the Brooklyn Rail by John Yau and the painter Chris Martin.



A few days in Malaga. From the window of the plane mountains (and valleys) covered in snow. While most of Spain suffers freezing temperatures Málaga is surprisingly mild, though it is raining on and off. At the Museo Picasso, Sophie Taeuber-Arp: wonderful, really wonderful. The refinement of patterns and structures which nearly always contain “dissident” elements within compositions. Then Picasso. I rarely think about Picasso. When I do see his paintings and drawings, I am naturally, always astonished. There are some great things here, among them: two small pencil drawings. Almost nothing. Female nudes. Reclining. In each a spontaneous flower like scrawl over the stomach area. Strange things. And, something else to think about, not just Picasso´s colour, but the material too. The materiality of the paintings. The Cathedral has a small museum, in reality just two dimly lit rooms…but at the end of the first room is a Ribera: Saint Peter the hermit: a lovely work, his long flowing beard the light etc. And speaking of the Cathedral, how I would love to see it without any of the paraphernalia: clear it all out, relics, confessionals, paintings, statues and all. I would keep the monumental organ…the only thing worthy of being there. Yesterday, I walked to the Centro de Arte Contempóraneo Málaga where I saw Wilhelm Sasnal again (I saw his exhibition recently in Dusseldorf). This is a completely different show with different works. Mixed feelings, but the odd good painting. Other than that, plenty of wandering the streets, sitting in cafes and restaurants etc (The waiters here are slow and indifferent even when you lose your temper with them – “somos humanos, que espera usted?”). Abundant local Christmas Kitsch everywhere, impossible to escape from it. Crowds that slowly move along the streets oblivious to the rain, spilling out of bars or gathering in clusters to watch street performers. Overkill with Christmas lights in the streets. Smoke everywhere from the roast chestnut stands on every street corner. A shop window display: full of textiles draped to create folds. The whole scene framed by the window creating a "painting", an extraordinary painting. I am reading Eyes Of The Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa, one of those books that expresses so well what one has already thought and experienced in one´s own work – the eyes touch, all our senses, our whole body must be engaged in making or contemplating a painting. I am also reading Wittgenstein’s Nephew by Thomas Bernhard. I admire Thomas Bernhard greatly – his style, his ferocious humour, his constant rant about Austria etc. I hope I can sleep tonight, in this vast hotel. Too much coffee today and too many petty thoughts in my head. Today has been uneventful. Another long lunch. A long siesta followed by a long walk. Tomorrow my journey home.

Snow covered mountains from the plane window.

Portrait of Thomas Bernhard by Joseph Gallus Rittenberg.

Folds in window display 1

Folds in window display 2.

Folds in window display 3.

View of a square in Málaga...the rain, the Christmas lights.

A market stall showing Christmas kitsch.

Wilhelm Sasnal, Cowboys 2 (2004), oil on canvas, 40x40cm.

A painting by
Sophie Taeuber-Arp at the Museo Picasso.

Detail of "Saint Peter the hermit" by José de Ribera.



Can we learn something from form in painting and its processes, from how it inter-relates, transforms, disintergrates, re-forms ,opens up or closes up, its presentation etc?

Things read - Blaise Pascal

Changing the figure, because of our weakness.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées: S484/L582

Things read - Michael Haneke

“If you build an idea into an absolute, it becomes an ideology. And it helps those who have absolutely no possibility of defending themselves to follow this ideology in order to escape their misery. And that’s not a question of the fascism of the right.
It also counts for left-wing fascism and for religious fascism. You could make the same film (The White Ribbon) – in a completely different form of course – about the Islamists of today. There is always someone in a wretched situation who seizes the opportunity, through ideology, to avenge himself, to emerge from his misery and to rectify his life. In the name of a beautiful idea you can become a murderer”

Michael Haneke, the Austrian Film Director, as quoted by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, 5 October 2009