The object of my non-representational work is developing complexly structured pictorial spaces. Every painting starts from a blank canvas; there is no preconceived idea, concept or strategy and there are no titles for the finished paintings. The starting point is the first colour patch, point or line, to which I then react with corresponding or contrasting patches, lines or points.
In painting I try to find that moment, in which openness and the definitive are balanced. Each and every single element of the picture should interact with all of the others. I try to set focal points or emphases, but these should never overpower the equilibrium of ambiguity. The painting is finished, if and when it resists an immediate comprehension, but offers at least one or a few different ways of perception or interpretation. For me it is interesting to note how I myself react to the picture’s visual structures; somehow on a physical level, like intuition, and it’s interesting to notice how paintings sometimes ‘work’ and sometimes don’t.
The finished picture is a kind of chronicle of its own creation – an ongoing process which continues in the next painting, with the experience gained during development of the previous one.
The pictorial elements do not depict anything specific but instead represent the concept of process.
The overreaching idea of my paintings is the question: how human beings perceive abstract images and how orientation in complex pictorial structures functions.
Space and Relations
Andreas Wolf’s non-representational paintings
Dr. Anna E. Wilkens
Some thoughts on why and how non-representational painting is important and in what way it may make a significant contribution to our lives
The difference between visual art and other emanations of cultural life may be its constitutive mind-body duality. Objects of art are there to be perceived with our senses, yet also act on the minds of those who contemplate or create or participate in them; this being their ideal aspect.
Assuming that a painting has a meaning, it follows that it is either an aggregation of intelligible signs or forms such a sign in its entirety.
However, the non-representational painting is not about legible signs at all – lest it would not be non-representational but, at best, abstract (understood as implying something concrete as the basis of an abstraction or condensation). The meaning of a non-representational painting is located beyond a statement compounded of signs; the painting is not a combination of visual symbols that may be (re-)translated into language to reveal a purpose, tell a story, purport a philosophical truth, yet the painting itself is that truth.
This truth is the relationality without which no painting – this, incidentally, is true even for representational, figurative or abstract paintings – can exist, without which it is not a painting. Conversely: That which exists in every painting is the relation of each single element to all other components, that in their interplay form the painting, are the painting. You have to imagine that we do not start out with a heap of component parts to be coaxed into engaging in various relations; without the relations, the in-between, that which is between all the colours, lines and planes, the painting could not, would not be; the relationality, the mesh of connections, is not the painting’s conditio sine qua non, but its conditio per quam.
The painting transcends two-dimensionality. Firstly, plane becomes space through superimposed layers of paint. Depending on the painting, this is more or less evident – there are instances in which the material characteristics of the paint form an essential component of the impact. Secondly, the arrangement of the coloured areas creates a spatial effect. Thirdly, a painting has and is part of a spatio-temporal environment. Still, while a painting may be subjected to temporal processes such as those of creation and reception, it remains a thing.
A painting therefore, being situated in space, is always embedded into a context, however its nature, the painting enters into a relation, a dialogue with this context and transcends, grows beyond the boundaries of its – real or imaginary – frame. It extends into space, and those looking at it are gathered into its sphere, thus in a sense becoming part of the painting and its relationality.
Similar principles of extension, or rather: of being extended, of being receptive to and meshed with an environment apply to the process of creation; for a work of art is always a collective event, because its creators as well as those who come to look at it are part of a community of humans, have grown up in it, have been moulded by it.
This moulding is in its essence a process, unfinished, infinite. During the gestation of a painting, the moulding is a two-way process. The creation and reception of painting is essentially conditional upon an environment as well as performative, changing itself and the environment in its actualisation.
An artefact, a painting is an object that springs from a process that is far more comprehensive than simply the act of painting; the painting itself is an object undergoing and participating in a process, the process of communication between the picture, its surroundings, and its viewers and thus, if indirectly, between the entire worlds of painter and viewer.
In conclusion: Non-representational painting, while certainly not one of life’s basic necessities, yet occupies an elevated position in the realm of cultural manifestations. There, it is irreplacable, since no other practice is equally equipped to manifest the relationality of the particular object, its manifold interconnections with a plenitude of diversity. It is precisely through the non-symbolic nature of its colours, lines, planes and structures that non-representational painting is removed from conceptuality, thus making space for the Non-identical (Adorno), for the manifold and for the fact that any multitude is of necessity interconnected through relations.
Anna E. Wilkens.