trying the big bang

artwork by friedrich zettl study for the big bang

learning by doing

At the latest when I started to approach abstract painting, and that was only a year ago – so I’m still pretty much at the beginning – an idea stuck in my head. Sure I am aware that it can sound a bit crazy, but one of the privileges of artists is to be able to spin crazy ideas, maybe even have to – and one shouldn’t put every word on the gold scales anyway.

That idea/vision is the big bang implimented in my art work. That is: suddenly it makes the real big mega bang and energy, light, colors are born and tune into each other, fight for their weight and creation emerges from this interaction. All of the actors/forces involved have not yet been determined in their ultimate appearance.

But while they are still fighting and competing with one another and at the same time approaching each other more and more, a vague picture of what will ultimately find shape emerges. But since there is no finished end product – as there is always a change in nature – everything remains vague to a certain extent and yet concrete features can be seen.


To put this idea into practice is beyond the ability of an old, senile man like me, a thought that belongs to the category of “Tower of Babel” anyway. Rather, the attempt is to incorporate considerations about this to a certain extent – that is already difficult enough. But maybe in the course of time I will be able to incorporate more aspects of this vision into one picture.


I recently presented a picture, Remembering a Landscape, which is part of a small series that I still have to work on.

remembering a landscape as negative of a film
remembering a landscape – the negative of a negative

This painting below, like the others of the new series, was initially put aside. Right from the start there were some aspects that I liked very much, but as a whole it showed too many weak points. Sometimes it is helpful to let some time pass to gain emotional distance. If one then looks at it again, some weak points catch your eye and you can try to correct and improve. But this can also lead to losing sight of the original intention and worse, painting a picture to death. So before this comes to that, I will perhaps reflect on it again in 1-2 weeks.

abstract landscape big bang

But what I quite like are some parts that reflect very well this breaking out of chaos and how they are taking shape.

artwork by friedrich zettl study for the big bang details

Everything is vague about style too. Elements of surrealism mix with expressionism or ideas of Chinese art. Likewise, sky, mountains and water are recognizable, but they only indicate, do not yet form a finished picture.

On the other hand, I am very satisfied with this part of another picture that I am still working on. That comes very close to what I have in mind. Quite a pleasing composition, strong and yet very sensitive in the details.

artwork by friedrich zettl study for the big bang details

In another attempt I wanted to include the cosmos and the stars, but still stay on earth :). What came out is certainly not optimal, but there are aspects on which I want to continue. On the one hand, the colors are no longer as intense as on the earlier works and a welcome change. The exaggerated “stars” are no longer “real” and thus a decorative element that gives the whole picture much more lightness.

artwork by friedrich zettl study for starry night


The composition of the painting, the modest reluctance with the determining elements, has a certain appeal, I think.


So also on the pile of unfinished pictures with it, with the hope that at some point I will get the great insight of how I can save the sheet with little effort.


Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day and the cosmos also took its time, so I exercise patience and try to take one step at a time 😊


More works: portfolio

Zettl Friedrich

alive and well and having fun

23 comments on “trying the big bang

Enjoy the narrative with the detailed works. An approach I may adopt in my own processes.

Thank you very much! I actually think that a good story shouldn’t be missing from a picture. I often listen to operas while painting, because I find this idea implemented in the best possible way.

Any possible chance of appreciating opera were blown away, near literally, by a guy who put industrial size speakers on his balcony and the hi fi system on full volume, from six in the morning until late at night, days on end.

This is hard, I feel with you. I would die. I am so happy to be able to live in silence. Only the birds, but if there should ever be a day when that also bothers me, I can’t be saved anyway 🙂

Smiles! Gratitude!

I’m a pretty simple person and this is really beyond me in many ways. I think the best (any of us can do) is paint the little postage stamp of cosmos in which we live and that is constantly in a state of becoming, anyway, and all we have with which to perceive that is our own senses. That said, I imagine there is an idea of it, and that is part of what you’re working with; your idea or THE idea? When I look at your paintings then read your discussion of intention and aspirations I naturally (self-referential person that I am) think, “What would I do if I had this idea?”

Early in Faust, Faust THINKS he’s seen the entirety of the universe in his book of magic (?) and Goethe seems to set out the tension between our little lives, beings, and preoccupations and that which actually IS (macrocosm). Mephistopheles pretty quickly lets Faust know that he (Faust) CAN’T see the macrocosm and that he (Faust) and Mephistopheles are both trapped in the microcosm. (Paradoxically, that might be the nature of the macrocosm?)

I think that is absolutely true and played out over and over again in all our conversations, wars, disputes over the nature of God, petty travails at work. Maybe we glimpse it. I don’t know. I struggle all the time between my idea and reality. I honor you for attempting something so ambitious. Your images are very beautiful and evocative. Maybe if every beautiful human creation were put together at the end of time, we would see the beginning and ending of the universe. <3

When I was young I did not like Goethe too much. The main reason probably was the way our teachers saw him. But Faust was different, it struck me from the very beginning as there is so much in it. You put it very well! Several brilliant ideas and at the end we will never have a final stand on this as long as we go on thinking. And when we stop Mephisto got a hold on us. My thinking or concepts are nothing and maybe there is no sense at all to post them but by doing this and most of all trying to implement them in my painting I am Faust, so to say.

Teachers are masterful at killing joy, and I was one. But I thank god I taught skills, not literature — well, I taught literature once. I figured my job description was to share what I loved and help my students love it.

I think this poem by Whitman would help Faust relax. We can’t do or see very much in our short lives, but we CAN do this 🙂

O Me! O Life!
BY WALT WHITMAN
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Thank you! It’s a wonderful one and I didn’t know it. So, you see, I have been rewarded for posting my minor thoughts 🙂

You have some very nice effects in there!

Thank you Chris! I am happy to hear this from a great artist ☺️

You’re very kind! I feel dumb looking at your work and I have no idea how you did that!

I developed my own technique. Hard to handle and it will take some time till I get better. But I see it like learning an instrument. One has to practice a lot and then one day one can express oneself.

I really enjoy your chaotic yet harmonious compositions

Thank you so much! I am really happy to hear this.

Oftentimes it’s difficult to balance flow with intent. If I err too much in favor of one or the other, I end up having to start over again from scratch.

Right! Sounds familiar 🙂 The other day a read a book again by a German lady – giving lectures on managment actually. And she has a very interesting definition of flow:

There is the area, a level that we have mastered, that we are very familiar with – the comfort zone and we tend to stick there. If we leave this level and set ourselves a (initially unattainable goal – a higher level), then we are in the flow (i.e. the level between the familiar and the unknown).

That is the area in which I am mostly at the moment. In the hope that sooner or later it will become a new comfort zone 🙂

Thanks for sharing the creative process with us.

Thank you so much for your kind words!

Dear Friedrich Zettl,

As always I very much enjoyed both your compositions (they have to me a fractial nature and fluidity which I like). But also I look forward to reading your coments about your work. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Ana Hernandez, your words meean very much to me and I mean what I say.

Of course I have been hesitating to write about my thoughts on my onw work. Normally artists don’t do that.

Personally, however, I was always fascinated by how a painter comes up with which pictures. We generally don’t find out about this until an eternity later, when art historians start analyzing. But that’s another thing. The developing of ideas, the many attempts to express these ideas in a picture, are part of a finished picture for me.

Perhaps I am also shaped by my intensive study of Chinese painting where things are a little different. And perhaps because I am more interested in works by artists who are searching rather than by those who “found”.

I love your work and the stories you share that detail your journey. There is so much energy and depth in your abstracts. You’re an incredilble artist!

Thank you so much for you kind words! They mean a lot to me! I was hesitating whether to add my humble thoughts when I post my work. So I am happy to see some friends like you enjoy them.

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