white black red gestural art

white black red

white black red: three colors give the title of the picture. Why in this order?

weiß schwarz rot: kunstwerk von friedrich zettl

As in most of my work, these ideas from Chinese painting and calligraphy also flow into them.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out a special aspect that is of essential importance for the understanding of East Asian art: the importance of the non-represented, the nothing, the white.

A premise placed on the painter in Asian art is: respect the black but adore the white.

While we as western viewers usually have the black (line, surface in focus when we look at a picture, the Asians attach great importance to how well the artist knows how to leave out white surfaces, to give them meaning, and to artfully set them).

It’s relatively easy to create dynamics with your brushstroke. Creating dynamism with the part that you don’t paint is an exciting challenge to hear.

More of this kind can be seen in gestural abstraction. related posting. painted calligraphy



15 responses to “white black red”

  1. rebecca s revels avatar

    I started to walk away without commenting but this called me back. I love how one can see life, movement and emotion in this.

    1. zettl.fr avatar

      Thank you so much, Rebecca, for your kind words! I am really happy to hear you like it. It means a lot to me.

      1. rebecca s revels avatar

        You are very welcome. Usually dark colors don’t appeal to me but this one has energy all its own so there is that 😉

  2. Martha Kennedy avatar

    When I was 8 I was a disrupting presence in my 3rd grade class. My teacher had recently returned from Japan where her husband had been stationed for a few years. To keep me quiet, she brought some Japanese prints to school and put me in back of the room and told me to draw these pictures. I was happy about that (but I didn’t learn subtraction). Some of that philosophy of spatial relationship sunk in, that the actual image isn’t even there without the area that’s not the image.

    1. zettl.fr avatar

      Yes, Martha, and this is just the very basics. We in the West make a distinction between the existent and the nonexistent. In one of my lectures I discussed 5 types of non-existent in the Chinese (Asian) perception. But I’m not sure if all of the listeners really understood everything 🙂

      1. Martha Kennedy avatar

        It would be great if you decided to post something about this. I would be very interested.

      2. Cally Blind avatar

        I’d love to learn about it as well!

  3. zettl.fr avatar

    This I will do. It will take a while, because it is a long treatise and I first have to think about how I can bring the whole thing into a short form and yet touch on the essentials.

  4. zettl.fr avatar

    Thank you, Cally Blind, for your interest! Too many opens tasks at the moment but I will try to get the article done soon. As mentinoned it will be based on a lecture I gave. My impression then was that quite a few listeners did not entirely understand what I was talking about. Indeed it is a difficult topic because of cutural differences. But I will try 🙂

  5. Spira avatar

    (Since that’s an older post, I feel more comfortable in expanding my thoughts and possibly overstay your welcome)

    You are resonating beyond what I could describe… to be an wonderful artist but also have the ability if dissecting the Way Of The Artist and produce valuable teachings, are two distinct traits that you have managed to amalgamate into one whole.

    I had an instance that demonstrated clearly the principle you are describing, 6 years ago, when a friend made a video based on my painting .
    (Hope the link works : https://www.facebook.com/100016073948389/posts/pfbid02jNCDFycbcB2k463Syd158ddPNwnXNJRoFKspJzLCYuNKxtFZ2T9QnzFu4SAYvcUXl/?app=fbl)

    The question that has always been at the forefront of my artistic quest is, especially with abstract pieces, When do you stop – put down the brush and decide to halt the process?

    My answer, so far, is my inner voice; when in total presence then I can hear her prompting not to add a single drop .
    I would love to hear yours, if possible.
    In closing, I wish to thank you for the meaningful, full of great art, addition you are giving to our Saturday mornings.
    Guten Tag.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Guten Tag and many thanks for your input! Unfortunately the link doesn’t work!

      Thank you very much for your kind words! Of course I’m always happy when I get feedback and it’s also the point of things to exchange ideas.

      The question of when to stop at a painting probably worries anyone who paints abstractly. You describe it wonderfully yourself: ….”my inner voice; When I am fully present….”. For me, the “inner voice” is the dialogue between the image and me. “You look sad, dear line, what can I do to make you happy?” That’s an exaggeration, of course, but I think it should be a dialogue.

      “When I’m fully present….” – that’s where we come to the point, I think. I usually meditate before painting, take a shower, prepare my tea, choose the right music… It’s important to be in the here and now.

      Your work really appeals to me! Have a nice cool weekend!

      1. Spira avatar

        I really appreciate you, taking the time to reply.
        Ahh, yes… the whole process, from inception to manifestation is a meditation, no?
        And music… a constant companion.

        You humble me. (I am Nick, btw)

        Thank you for your wish; you too, enjoy the weekend. ( currently we are having 41°C)

        (If you don’t mind, give another try to the link – forgot to change the settings to public; it should be working now)

    2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      The link is working now. Many thanks for sharing. Faszinating concept!

  6. Spira avatar

    It should work now ( I forgot to change settings at the post)

    I really appreciate your reply; it is a meditative process, indeed.

    You humble me… thank you.
    I am Nick, by the way.

    Enjoy your weekend, too.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Sorry, Nick, for the delay in replying! Your comment went to the spam-folder. Thanks again for your precious thoughts you shared with me! I hope you have a cool place (and an even cooler beer) to get throught the summer heat! All the best!

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