BIOGRAPHY

I am an artist born on january 31st in 1941 in Hannover, Germany. When I was born, my mother wore a yellow star and my father protected us (and others) as well as he could.

My first souvenirs are from the village where we stayed till 1945: bombs, DCA and war games with other kids. When I was in my late 6, I had to go to school, in the Waldorf Schule (Rudolf Steiner) and I discovered the rude law of entering a group ( they against me) and of being taught (they forced me to write with my right hand). Luckily, school ended at noon, and I could spend the rest of my time playing or reading and daydreaming. I forgot to mention that at 5, I was taken to a sort of sanatorium in the Alps, during 6 months and that I was a little brutalized there by the "sisters" and had no contact with my parents during that time (my father couldn't come to visit me, because he stayed in the British occupation zone and I in the American); after that I went to Switzerland for 3 months: paradise! Maybe that's why I settled in Geneva.

I didn't show any particular artistic gift, my parents were more interested in tennis and playing cards, seeing friends etc. than in creativity. Anyway, who cared on art? Everybody was on reconstruction of the country. And the artists had left the country.

It's by a kind of miracle that I started painting at the age of 15. I don't have any explanation for it, except that my mother liked drawing, that I had an aunt who was a ceramist and a good friend who could draw anything he liked.

Here is one of my first works: a selfportrait. It is largely influenced by the German expressionism.

My friend liked what I painted, so I continued ever since. Naturally, I took some lessons in Academy and compostion, color, I read books on art and was sure that my destiny was to be an artist. I told my parents. They were against it, they thought it was a nice hobby. And I tried to do what they proposed. But after my "abitur", at 19, after six months spent in a plant, I told them that it was art or nothing. As we came to no agreement, I accepted going to Switzerland in order to study translation. I accepted. But when I was there, I soon switched to the local art school, without saying it to my parents.

 

Here I am, bold and proud, at the art school My paintings of that time were under the influence of Nicolas de StaŽl: simplified and very colorful landscapes.

When I got my diploma in 1964, my parents cut my living and I had to work and couldn't paint so much any more. These years were frustrating. And I got married. When I had some time left, I stole it for my beloved art. I soon went through a major crisis of inspiration and started collage after a long pause in 1967.

This is one of my first collages When I look at it, I am tempted to simplify it. But the space looks interesting to me.

From that time on, all my painting was done more or less on the base of collage.

Here an example from the seventies

From time to time, I switched to a more figurative way, with some political content.

 

Here is one of my big paintings (2m high), inspired by bank robberies caught by video cameras, I naÔvely called it: Rockefeller's nightmare... I remember driving on the lakeside with it tied up on the roof of the car and suddenly flowing away in the air...(like my illusions about fame and glory, am I tempted to say now).

In 1978, having finished my studies in German linguistics & litterature and history of art, there was a big break in my life:I divorced and took my two kids with me.

I made collages like this one, called departure

I made several collages per day and wrote a lot of words on them, like this one, inspired by a French poet: Bernard NoŽl.

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After this serie which lasted 2-3 years, I went back to painting and tried to paint from scratch: first in one color, because I felt that I had to go back to fundamental problems like composition, meaning etc.

Here is an example I still like: Desire. As you can see, I worked with an aerograph. I imagined a sole woman in a train looking through the window.

I made quite a lot of blue paintings, but I felt more and more that I should study color.

 

For that, I chose the most basic subject: water. It went very near to .abstraction

The water is moving and the barrier is blown away. I used brushes and aerograph.

 

1986 I married again and painted "Kiss".

I painted many figurative paintings, my favorite theme: my wife, Denise.

Denise, 1988 (acrylic painting)

I then began a serie of landscapes inspired by my trips and tours. I tried to translate my emotions through color. I started with one color and associated the other ones very spontaneously. The following painting from 1993 (Coll.A&K.Ruf, Montreal CA) shows a typical landscape of Burgundy/France where we bought an old farmhouse which has become my main studio.

. The painted frame on the canvas is what remains from an older painting. I often used this technique in oder to put the color independantly and to "disturb" the landscape. To see more of these paintings click the following link Gallery former paintings .

When I had sufficiently experienced this kind of painting, I made a change in 1995 and began to pour industrial laquer on the canvas, sometimes on these landscapes.

(Coll.A&K.Ruf, Montreal CA).

These paintings were very exciting to make because the paint was so unstable.And I discovered a new world of possibilities. To see more of these paintings click the following link Gallery abstract paintings.

After 3 years of this, I felt I had to change.Because it ended too often in the same patterns.So I tried to come back to figurative works by integrating photos in those paintings.

This is one of them: "Garden", from 1995

As you can see, I tried to mix abstract painting with photographs, which gave a realistic meaning to the abstract forms. I already was interested by the edges or fractures between these two worlds I believed antagonistic. To see more of these paintings click the folowing link: Gallery collage in painting.

After sept. 11th 2001, reading the news I was shocked by the fact that one could cut the throat of someone else without any feeling or with deep satisfaction (?). I felt urgent to show the victim's pain, the revolt in front of coldblooded murdering. I also studied the interpretation of the psychanalist Alice Miller on behalf of the sacrifice of Isaac showing that usually the accent is put on the ethical supension during this sacrifice of the child without any consideration for the suffering victim, for the child .I soon started a serie called massacres on the theme of violence (Abraham's sacrifice, Cain & Abel...), some of them inspired by classical paintings (Caravaggio, Botticelli, Rembrandt and others).I reinterpreted these paintings in putting the accent on the sufferings or the revolt of the agonizing victim. I used quite big sheets of paper (100x70 cm) and mixed painting (acrylic) and photo. I went so far in expressionism that soon I felt I had expressed as much as I possibly could. The theme is very compelling to me because compassion with the victim is not frequent in art which usually magnifies the powerful. I wanted to question tradition - in the bible and in painting.
This sacrifice of Isaac was inspired by the painting of Caravaggio. I changed Abraham into a mad butcher.This personal interpretation of the myth questions the idea of religeous fanatism. If you want to see more of these paintings, please click on the following link:Gallery massacres

Streetwork: I started on nov-dec. 2000 in order to experience bigger works and to come into closer contact with the people. In the beginning, I felt quite excited by these works and their impact on the visual environment and was thrilled by doing it very quickly, in full daylight. Through my intervention the billboards showed their underlying stereotypes or just became a new work with a bit of wit added. The fact that I could walk around and see my works displayed filled me with deep satisfaction; and the fact that they disappear very quickly helped me to practice modesty and gave me the kick to start again. The pleasure of making art lies for me more in the act of creation than in building up a big artistic ego.I now make a break with this activity which is like rolling up the stone of Sysyphus and concentrate on my paintings.

But this doesn't mean defintive retirement!

The modified billboards are displayed in section streetwork: streetwork

During summer 2002 my work took a new direction: I paint with acrylics on canvas in order to enlarge a particular collage. The themes are taken from existing masterpieces or from ads. I feel very comfortable painting like this because the language of my paintings wants to be clear and comprehensible, and refer to the great masters of the past. That's fun. And when I paint I feel goooood!

Here you can see my "winter" atelier, in fact our kitchen in november 2003 , where I just paint during the absence of my wife Denise. When she comes home, everything is cleaned up... The painting is 130x95cm big, it fills the room, but I can handle it.

In 2005, I retired from teaching art, keeping only periodical workshops. I now concentrate on the mix of collage and painting, a very challenging technique with great possibilities.

 

Those paintings are displayed in the painting section of this gallery: paintings

I abandoned painting some years ago and felt it like liberation, because collage has become more than a sheer pretext for a painting on canvas. What I concentrate on now, in these years, is the invention of a picture and no more on technical aspects. What I discover every day during my work is the best reward for my daily effort.  But in fact it isn’t work, it’s only pleasure.