draft for corona series blinds

Drafts for the Corona series and questions about them

a few drafts for a new exhibition in 2022

For one of my exhibitions, which will be shown in Vienna next year, I chose the topic of Covid-19. I think this is a subject that might be of some interest. We all suffered and still suffer from it in one form or another and so I thought that it might be of interest to see how a painter experienced the time, but above all how he implemented the phenomenon artistically.

I have already finished some works that I am basically quite satisfied with. But now I would like to start another series. The subtopic of the matter in isolation. (Without wanting to go into more detail, I have to admit that I have isolated myself to a hardly comparable degree.) For this series, I did some preliminary work and before I start “upgrading” this work like an idiot, I have a question. The question is not: do you like these designs?

The question is: Do you associate these drafts with Corona? (As I said, these are just drafts that I probably won’t continue working on, but the end products should reflect this idea).

I think Corona is an exciting phenomenon. It’s an abstract thing – you can’t see it or touch it – but at the same time it’s so concrete that none of us can escape it.

So I wanted to approach the topic in such a way that I treat it abstractly, but present the associated phenomena in a “tangible” way. The designs are shown here by creating 2 rooms, the inner world (not shown and to be created by the viewer) and the outer world, the omnipresent threat. These two worlds are separated by a level (in these cases a kind of blind, in other drafts I used curtains). Later on, I will let the two worlds merge.

In no case do I want to make it too obvious or too hysterical? Ideally, the work should have a poetic touch or reveal the threatening in the pleasing or every day.

The picture on the left with its Chinese characters is already too overdrawn – the picture on the left is maybe too weak for this purpose.

The fundamental question that arises for me, however, is whether the viewer even associates the works with covid-19 and the associated threat or danger. If that’s not the case, my whole approach doesn’t really make sense. Your opinion on this would certainly help me.

As a side effect of the new test series, a new series apart from Corona could perhaps emerge, as in this draft.

draft for corona series in blue

Be that as it may, I think the effects of my isolation are very noticeable and so I have decided to fly to Cyprus in a few days to spend a relaxed week and cure myself with sun, beach, and good food. It’s a good resort there with outdoor restaurants and in the off-season, the risk of infection should be very low. Of course, I’m vaccinated twice anyway.

If you haven’t checked recently, I have revised my catalog and added new works: gestural painting


12 responses to “Drafts for the Corona series and questions about them”

  1. Martha Kennedy avatar

    I had a strong reaction to the images. I wouldn’t say I identify them with Covid, but more with barricades, possibly fear, being shut up or shut out. That would be the effect of the horizontal lines, particularly the red and brown lines. I don’t like looking at those two pictures so in that case, you nailed it. They are powerful, angry and repulsive, not a bad thing given your goal.

    The two predominantly blue paintings (because of the psychological nature of blue?) seem to offer something more, partly because, I think, the lines are more transparent as they cross the darker image. The final image is (to me) too beautiful to be Covid. I also had the thought of these paintings in a series through time illuminating the trajectory of your feelings/attitudes over a period. I wondered if they are.

    You’ve set yourself a brave and difficult challenge, partly because the isolation is not an objective experience. I liked it (to my surprise) and found it liberating. I feel constantly pressured by the mixed messages of this moment. But the two big paintings I did during that period reflect sublimated feelings of facing the unknown (the tree, sky, horizon) and displacement (cranes don’t normally walk among the trees). That said, displacement could be adventure (depending on the eye of the viewer or painter) and the unknown is not necessarily a dark and scary place. Right now, I’m not painting anything but apples. I realize I’m too wound up and angry because of events in my country (some related to Covid) to paint anything but an explosion — and that could happen. 🙂

    I don’t know if this is helpful or now but Cyprus sounds wonderful. I have wanderlust myself, but no idea where to go.

    1. zettl.fr avatar

      Thank you Martha, you helped me a lot! That you perceive them as threatening calms me down. I’m on vacation for 1 week and I have time to think about this series. Basically, I think a lot of it myself. As always, it depends on the implementation.

      I saw your pictures with pleasure and I am glad that you have no problems with Covid-19. I didn’t have that until the end. It was only through health problems, the hacker attack, frustration with my online trade … something developed. I’m sure I’ll be better when I get back.

      Cyprus looks good. Originally I was thinking of Fes in Marocko but it’s not open now. One day I’ll see the amazing colors there with my own eyes …

      1. Martha Kennedy avatar

        My thing with Covid now is just a lost feeling. BUT I hope that will resolve when the heat of summer dissipates and the dogs and I have more liberty to wander around out there. I miss Europe and would like to return, but I don’t know where or how at this point, and why is a bit problematic as well. An Italian friend said that “all” I love about Italy is the culture, and I thought, “It’s hard to minimize that…” I do miss that. I hope your journey gives you what you need.

      2. zettl.fr avatar

        The situation with Covid is leaving its mark on all of us. I’m generally not a tearful guy and can take a lot. But, should that be the meaning of life?

        And do you know what happened a few minutes ago? I sold one of my John Wayne autographs. This means that the entire trip is paid 🙂

        I really love Italy! Since my youth, and since it’s relatively close, I’ve been there a lot. I even started learning Italian. It didn’t seem so ideal for this trip, because I’d rather have a little fewer people around me.

      3. Martha Kennedy avatar

        Congratulations on your sale!! That’s awesome news.

        As far as I can tell, the meaning of life is life itself. 🙂

      4. zettl.fr avatar

        Thank you! The Buddhists, the Daoists, all know it.

  2. Leim Art avatar

    As an art teacher in first place, I probably try to put together examples from art history to make exhibition in such controversal theme. And in my mind there are symbolism, expressionism and minimalism … and in this place of stillness start to happen something great. Like music composition with culmination and calm almost quiet part where CREATION starts. From this I would ketch some ideas or find some answers.
    Your sketches for me explain the conflict between something abstract and unrecognisable and something strict and straight as rules what we have to fallow. Behind those rules we didn’t see each other not only covid itself. You embody this uncomfortable feeling definitely! Very interesting and complicated theme with many possible scenarios.

    I have one question, if there would be only one word to describe covid, what it could be?

    1. zettl.fr avatar

      Thank you very much for your helpful input!

      I went through different phases in my development as a painter. Symbolism (for me it was more surrealism), expressionism and Asian ink painting set the tone.
      “… and in this place of silence something great begins to happen …” That’s exactly how I see it. Corona brought “silence”. I can also fully agree with the comparison with composition in music (mostly I hear Bach, Arvo Pärt, but also Brian Eno …). Yes, I also find answers in music, but mostly it serves to tame my mind, set up a hrmonious stage.

      “… Conflict between something abstract and unrecognizable and something strict and straight as rules …” – You see it completely correctly.
      “Describe Covid” in one word. Archetype. That may sound strange and is probably related to the fact that I am back to C.G. Jung read on this subject. And yet I think the approach is correct. With Covid, so many archetypal forms and patterns come to light, even where we would not suspect it, such as the phenomenon of anti-vaccination …

      Your suggestions helped me a lot to think about it further, thanks again!

  3. swabby429 avatar

    I see a raven and a ghost in the first painting. I feel the isolation in the fourth image. Frustration comes through strongest in the final painting.

    1. zettl.fr avatar

      Thank you! Yes, a “raven” appears in several of these works of this series. It has a clear universal meaning so I thought it is useful. Isolation, frustraition, yes – so it seems people se what I want to express. Thank you for your helpful comment!

  4. Silver Screenings avatar

    Your work is beautiful. In this series, the piece with the blue-ish vertical lines strongly signified “isolation” to me. Thanks for sharing these works.

    1. Zettl avatar

      Thank you so much for your thoughts! This helps a lot. I will go on with this series now I see that others can feel what I am trying to express.

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