I'm painting right now and observing myself: What goes through my head, what I think about when I paint. I paint large two-dimensional forms with a large, wide brush, but also fine lines. These are structures that are replaced by individual settings. I am more and more concerned with sensitivity and precision in the application of the paint with the brush, the spreading on the canvas or here on the paper, the spontaneous action and the process that is represented by it. In the background music by Philipp Glass "Facades". The whole thing just gives me a feeling of hope, the great power at the bottom of melancholy, as an antipole to the non-existence of being, which I cannot perceive as such. In the moment of painting I feel myself and understand existence through what I do and therefore am. And I see this in the spread of a white spot, its shape on a broken green background. There is exactly the subject that interests me. Sometimes I want to formulate it very precisely, to record it in a linguistic form that is more comprehensible than it appears in colour. But of course that is not possible in this way: the beautiful is the picture and the beautiful is the colour, if it works, if it has an immediate effect through the senses. Clear simple colours, that is what I am looking for. There are the moments of the deeply broken, the melancholic being in me, the laziness, the boredom, the hopelessness, the senselessness of painterly doing, the non-existence, the unbelievable. And then there is the moment when it works, the confirmation when it works.
The question of painting is not which colour the existing picture demands, but my impulse must define itself in relation to the existing. Thus discussion, dissonance, resonance, a relationship between the existing pictorial space and the momentary intervention, a reaction, a solving, an appearance at the moment of painting in relation to the existing colour tree: space, system, line, solo are musical ideas of improvisation, of allowing relationships to fade away. And again and again the question of my own place, the space I have to take up, the space the blue needs or the red when it spreads out on the yellow space. The background, the existing image, is a space. I always react to a colour space. And I intervene with a line, a point, a system, with a surface, a destruction, in other words something motivated from within me, I take up a counter-position, one that is different from the space. I enter into communication with the colour space through the moment of setting. This inevitably creates a tension, which sometimes lasts and is good, but often dissolves, fades, dilutes, adapts and in the long run does not hold the tension. In this way different qualities are created. It is never about, and this is important to me, pursuing a creative methodology. Although the techniques used are certainly shaped by formal experiences, I am definitely not interested in formal investigations: no working off of possibilities, no declining, no conjugating versions, of constellations, but always in the moment of the new intervention, the new idea. And the idea is nothing more than the current standpoint as a painter. From this living position any form emerges and is therefore pure content. It emerges from the consciously experienced, the forgotten, the unconscious, the not yet known, the sensually experienced, as a clear statement against repetition, against system, against working through themes, techniques and tricks and above all against chance, which always wants to reach out its hand to me at the moment of painting. Coincidence enchants, confuses and is my strongest challenge and inspiration, but it also challenges me again and again to define and represent myself in the moment of doing. In other words, the paint on the brush goes onto the paper, onto the colour space and represents a singular, an isolated spot of colour, a line, a glaze, a figuration that asserts itself against space. Basically: figure and space, as a deeply autobiographical theme; against the randomness of being I set my autobiography. Through my painterly working line, a sense of meaning emerges, which defines me as a self, but also as a human being, as a social being, as a political being, in the group. Whereby my motivation arises mainly from a melancholic, ego-feeling being. I paint with the great hope of discovering something new. Painting is thus a process and documentation at the same time, which forms a kind of person, an artistic person. In the moment of painting, the picture is actual, the space is tangible. A now is created, which dries with the paint, becomes the past, the picture.
The image is a document of past existence, the colour space is an interpreted image. Painting is the timeless creation of a new now. This cycle is the artistic process, an autobiographical process that confirms itself, criticises itself, tries to be open in the moment of creation. My criteria are: Boredom, coincidence, space, rhythm, sound, landscape, illusion, balance, contrasts. The criteria of the observer basically originate from his own observation, his position towards society, therein art, therein different artistic forms, therein painting as a formal colourful experience of different forms and techniques. The own experience, the own perception interprets, feels directly and tries to understand, to explore, is superficial, feels challenged to look behind the surface. Repeated glances are provoked, associations arise, connections to others, to the pictures in the bag that you have brought with you.
The reference to my autobiography creates a self-conscious mirror into which the viewer looks. This mirror remains unfathomable, especially in its openness and critical faculty, impenetrable, indecipherable and thus a work of art.
13.11.13 Axel Plöger
The narrative in painting:
Space and time and surface, line and form.
In comparison to narrative arts such as literature, film or music, painting and the picture are simultaneous. The viewer is directly confronted with the sum of the elements, without the possibility of a time-based experience. From this immediate wholeness and the total sensory impression he has to understand the picture in its motives and components in his own time and occupation. The totality provides the stimulus and represents the entrance and contact surface through which the viewer enters and experiences the relationship weights and rhythms of the picture for himself.
Beginning and end are up to the subjective perception. An analytical separation of the elements is impossible. Thus, dramaturgical forms such as prologue, prelude, introduction, climax, conclusion, conclusion, main theme of a sonata, or other lyrical forms are impossible. This immediacy is the living characteristic of painting and awakens the appeal of looking with the senses.
Thus, in the process of painting there is a compression of elements, layers and forms, which flow into a picture as a means even without claiming any function in the overall picture. Much is painted over and forgotten, in the painterly sense, and yet contributes to the sensual intensity and materiality of the picture. The end of the process is the picture. As an open surface immediate, rigid in presence and tension. Mostly related to lyrical short forms such as two to three line verses or simple sounds and their chords. The whole work can be grasped at a glance. Perceptible, sensual and physically present without even a moment of understanding having taken place. This pleasurable process of consciousness as an observer begins with the picture and occupies the viewer again and again, not in the sense of a decoding and symbolic interpretation, but a phenomenological contemplation of the picture.
To have no words for what one sees, that is the language of painting.
10.10.19 Axel Plöger
About complexity and simplicity
There are works that are formed from two or three postures and have enormous power. In their openness and reduction they can provoke the viewer. Their successful colourfulness, however, invites the viewer to perceive the painter's basic activity. My ideal is this self-confident, experienced realisation, which can manifest itself in a few strokes and is irrevocable in its poetic simplicity. This simplicity makes it clear where the emphasis lies in art and does not give the viewer unnecessary, distracting illusions. I am happy when an idea can be perceived sensually and it is especially the simplicity that manages to refer the viewer to only two or three colour areas. The problems here are of course the critical attitude and the necessary sensitivity, but the viewer must obviously be confronted with this. For me, it is the moment of endurance, the perception of power, to arrive at this clear setting. Saying something in one or two sentences that one could perhaps paraphrase in two pages of text, but which can be understood immediately in a clear setting. The contemporary image is reduced, sets A against B and thus perhaps already reflects our whole being.
On the other hand, complex layers, condensations, overlappings, narratives, journeys emerge, which strongly go beyond the moment, which quite deliberately create colour contrasts, which cannot be left to the moment, cannot only arise now. These pictures are created through the influence of time, of complex time periods, of changes. They unite contradictions, fluctuating positions, different characters, different materialities of colours and form a narrative character: they hide, overlap, arise from deposits of time (as in Per Kirkeby), between different systems (as in Albert Oehlen) or through intellectual strategies (as in Gerhard Richter). The result is symphonies with an enormous density of experiences, which are constantly rearranging themselves to each other, keeping the observer in motion and keeping themselves open. These are the complex, the condensed pictures with ten or thirty layers on which I paint over weeks, which absorb both the malignancy, the mallust, the disappointment, the frustration, the aimlessness into a more complex, superordinate picture of my actions. So the pure painting shows itself both in the moment and in the more complex time-oriented composition. To make the poetic eye of perception comprehensible and reflect the complexity of the world. There is this contradiction and longing for both one and the other, and it is only a moment when I leave the simple and the painting reaches a new more complex status. Somewhere in between there is a melody, a few notes, a two-line, a poem. It is doubt that creates the complex structure and it is the awareness and certainty that sustains and carries the simple.
13.11.13 Axel Plöger
This artist is a painter - A visit to the studio of Axel Plöger
The designation of an artist as a painter often evokes stylised ideas in the art public - from the academy class to the eccentric painter prince. But when looking into the studio, it quickly becomes clear what they all have in common: being a painter means above all getting involved in a painterly process. Mixing colours and applying them with a brush or spatula, but also dripping, flowing, spilling, scratching or scraping and often taking them away or painting over them. The studio of a painter therefore usually bears clearly visible traces of this painterly process - as does the studio of Axel Plöger. [...]
I first met him about ten years ago in the museum. He came to Marta Herford with a portfolio of works on paper, put them on the table and invited me to flip through the large stack of expressive A4-format portraits. Like a diary he dealt with faces - his own as well as other people's faces. With just a few gestural strokes in a rather narrow range of colours he captured the different heads and captured their respective expressions.
One year later he devoted himself intensively to "invented landscapes" - forest motifs, often in bright, glaring colours. During a first visit to his studio he showed me this extensive series of large and small canvases and works on paper. Vertical tree structures are crossed by diagonals and horizontals, creating a thicket of lines and shapes. These depictions of forests, which probably reflect the wild growth of a South American jungle rather than the orderly regularity of a Westphalian forestry, were further proof to me of this painter's obsession. Although he has treated very different motifs over the years, the artist's special passion for the painterly process is expressed in all groups of pictures. This was already evident during his studies. Teachers and fellow students tried again and again to persuade him to preserve something that had been created and to let it stand. "My daily results were often intoxicating for me, they made me happy, I had discovered and understood. But the very next day I was able to get back to it in contempt, took a still dirty brush out of the bucket and plunged headlong into new problems with destructive joy".
Even after more than 25 years, it is these painterly questions that keep the artist busy. He loves the intoxication of colours and forms that can arise in the process of creation. In his studio, he is passionately dedicated to the exciting interplay between the urgent movements of the material and his own, often intuitively made decisions. The destructive, obliterating intervention of the artist is also permissible, so that something special is created: "It is the moment of the renewed destruction of a finished painting and the possible beginning of a new one. His paintings are created through experimental actions that leave their traces on the surface of the picture carrier under the concentrated eye of the artist. From a sequence of different painterly moments, rhythmic connections of form and structure emerge, which rather evoke loose associations with nature than represent concrete landscapes or still lifes. Generous forms interweave with small, nervous structures and are staggered one after the other. Alternately they either block the viewer's access or even pull him or her in. Strange colour tones and clear structural contrasts between transparency and thicket mean that the observer is nevertheless willing to follow the artist's movements. The individual steps of the process of creation cannot always be reconstructed. Illusionistic surfaces, which can almost reach photographic quality, and fragile traces of the work, which are created by brush or hand, combine to form a heterogeneous pictorial space, which only merges into a unity in the eye of the viewer, because: "The picture is created in the mind. The titles of the works help the viewer on the track. Partly borrowed from Homer's "Odyssey", they take him on the odyssey into the realm of shadows and from there lead him back into the light.
2015 Friederike Fast, museum Marta Herford