“Axis Mundi” – working notes
In front of the studio door, right between the tight gaps of the patio tiles, a mullein (lat. Verbascum, the German name “Königskerze” signifies “royal candle”) is growing.
On all sides, smaller plants of the same family accompany it.
On June 23rd 2011, I begin to sketch the plant with large movements and chalk on a big unprimed canvas (270 x 200 cm).
“Axis mundi” – working notes
Although I’m intensely occupied with other projects and fancy myself to have no time for another one, although my schedule is already as tight as the patio tiling in front of the studio door, this bold surprise pushes its way through the time gaps in my schedule.
On my path, there are gaps as well through which chance befalls me, often inconvenient and untimely, yet expected and welcome.
Such a plant doesn’t grow for nothing directly in front of the door of a painter. Serendipitous suggestions, such as this one, are significant; it indicates a reason, a point, pointing somewhere… But where?
Königskerze – “Royal Candle”
The plant epitomizes what its name designates: royalty and a candle. A royal flame that flares into the vertical and seizes wide horizontal space with its orderly wildness.
Royalty symbolizes freedom, just as the spirit does. It grows where it wishes, even on rubble, between cobble stones, or like the lotus, from mud.
Where do plant and name lead? They direct me to what lies close, to looking closer, to exploring the visible that reveals itself before the senses as an obvious secret.
“Nature seeks eyes that see it”, and planted itself directly in front of the studio door of an artist who made it his business to discover the inner image in the outer appearance and to make it visible.
Above and Below
Plants grow from below upward, and from above downward. They grow in the light – only in the light
The earth forces impel them, the light forces call them. From above the calling, from below the drive. The power of the center, which spans both poles, makes for the miracle. The center is the key, it steers everything – with a limitless wealth of variation – by the four elements Earth, Water, Air and Light (Fire) towards the outer form.
Regally the leaves swing themselves, as though clothed in baroque dresses, from the center towards the periphery; simultaneously creating space and a new base for the slender plant pillar that aims for the open cosmic space. An arrow of earth. A receiving station of the universe. A vivid image of the “Axis mundi”.
Empty spaces form between the stem and the nodes, where little insects live in shady apartments. They have a home that provides them shelter and nourishment. Houses that regrow and are edible at the same time – a visionary architecture.
Stretched between the earth and sky, the earth and sun and the other planets work out a figure that manifests the invisible play of forces. In the mysterious chlorophyll-workshops, which transform light into starch, the song of a summer is playing. Here it manifests as “Königskerze” – amidst the tiled patio in front of the studio door.
Drawing and Painting
Together, the verticalness, the swaying movement of the leaves and their climax towards the heralded flower, create a tall triangle, the basic form of fire.
In the lower section, the large wild leaf forms of the plant’s base are sprawling. Towards the top they get smaller and smaller and taper into small green flames that flicker upwards along the axis to finally open into yellow blossoms.
While the green leaves at the uppermost apex of the plant turn themselves inside out to become yellow blossoms, the lowest ones are already decaying.
The plant is one and a half meters high, as I begin to draw it.
When I draw, I enter into a dialog with the subject that I’m portraying – which in turn opens up and changes me.
My sight becomes dynamic, it liberates itself from the categorizing conceptual recognition and becomes a flow. Thereby the thing or object that I’m facing becomes something completely abstract.
The figure of the plant reveals itself to me as a score of a visual music that I study and rehearse faithful to its essence on old instruments such as canvas, chalk, paint brushes, watercolor and oil paint.
The canvas’ blank space determines in which proportions the drawing will be conceived.
While drawing, my spine enters into resonance with the verticality of the plant and lifts me up.
From the resonance follows the dance. The vertical unfolds itself, even in its movement. Dancing it creates its own “leaf-figured” spirited sphere.
This range, of the free vigorous dance movement in the lower section of the plant and the subtlest geometric precision towards the upper part, also defines the artistic action and state while drawing and painting.
On July 23rd, one month later, I finished the painting.
The plant continued growing, reached 2,90 meters in height, then stopped growing, dried up, ended the dance of this summer, now accompanying the resulting painting on exhibitions.
23rd June until 23rd July 2011
Mixed technique on unprimed canvas
270 x 200 cm
Exhibition “Städtische Galerie Ehingen”, 2016