corona and the sea

cliffs and sea painting for corona series

three versions

As most of you already know, I am working on a series in which my thoughts and reflectios on Covid-19 will be portrayed and which I will be exhibiting next year.


When I started to play with this thought, a few questions quickly arose: in which style, with which techniques, etc. As for the style, it quickly became clear to me that I would only approach this subject by using a semi-abstract form. As for the technique, I developed a completely new one, which I have adapted to my needs and which I am trying to improve step by step.


First I made some drafts and presented them in a blog post. Some of you were so friendly and shared point of view with me, which was very helpful to me and I would like to thank you again for that. [drafts for corona series]

Graphing the phenomenon Covid-19 is a difficult undertaking in several respects, whereby the most important questions for me are:

How do I make the invisible visible? How do I create a predominantly abstract image in such a way that the underlying phenomenon can be recognized? But above all, how do I convey the areas of feelings such as fear, insecurity, restriction, isolation, communication breakdown, dealing with something that goes beyond our limits of imagination up to dealing with people close to me in death.

A semi-abstract approach also seemed to me the most suitable as it enables me to integrate the abstract element Covid-19 in very realistic scenarios. Sometimes these look almost like photos – and we generally believe in photos.

After I focused on the big landscape in previous series, the sky, the mountains and the water, I presented another work last week, a painting devoted to the forest. Just as the forest can of course be understood as a metaphor, so can my new topic, the sea, be understood as a metaphor. Maybe even more.

in the woods artwork by friedrich zettl

version 1

My first attempt was a lot of fun while painting. On the one hand the picture is a daring composition, but on the other hand with a fairly big idea and some visual strenght. When I finished my work in the early hours of the morning and washed out the brushes, I had the satisfaction of having painted a good picture. But the very next morning I realized that I had missed my initial goal.


The original aim was to transfer that thought from the forest theme to the sea. In the forest it was the alluring, the mysterious micro world, the inviting light – and the barrier. Now it had become an image that focuses on the sea, but is far too optimistic and the barrier is not optimal. But there are other aspects that turned out well.

cliffs and sea  painting for corona series

version 2

So I started another attempt in which the sea is only hinted at, but a strongly accented barrier, a NO GO sign, dominates. An attempt in which the sea is basicall only hinted at, but a strongly accentuated NO GO dominates. I was also quite satisfied with this picture inasmuch as I included an element that played a role in my deliberations from the beginning, but which I had pushed aside as too unworthy. Namely bringing a bat into play. Very abstract and stylized you can now guess a “bat-feeling” in this NO GO.

corona nd the sea painting

version 3

Then I thought that the picture might be too bold on the one hand, and on the other hand it gives the viewers too little opportunity to develop their own ideas and I painted version 3. One can perhaps see these versions as too pessimistic. I am aware that many consider the corona-crisis to be over. Last but not least, the share prices on the stock exchanges reflect this optimism. Personally, I am tending in a completely different direction and think some might be surprised how the situation will look after the holidays. But I’m neither a virologist nor a doctor, so it’s just one opinion among many. However, what I wanted to express is the underlying fear that can also plague people who are already studying the holiday catalogs again.

corona and the sea paunting nr.2
corona anbd the sea details
I also tried to blur the line between the surface of the sea and the depths of the sea and I am quite happy with the result.


Unfortunately, I don’t know much about poetry, my last poem broke in elementary school, still the following lines came to my mind:

Such a longing for the sea
Don’t even think about it


I’ve already painted it out clearly in my head
Don’t even think about it


And now it’s at my fingertips
Don’t even think about it


More suche works: HERE

Zettl Friedrich

alive and well and having fun

9 comments on “corona and the sea

I don’t think the sea has any sense of Covid which is possibly why I gravitate to your final image. The detail from the second image is a painting of hope, to my eyes, anyway. The painting isn’t. That’s intriguing. Hope isn’t always our dominant response to something.

“Hope is not always our dominant response to something”. As always, you get to the point.

I certainly didn’t have the topic of hope in focus, probably because it’s a term that doesn’t mean much to me. Hope, these are the poor people who stand in line to buy lottery tickets and then become really rich and happy and slim.

And hope cannot do much to solve the Covid-19 crisis either. In our current situation, the solution can only be found by applying scientific knowledge. But as long as Wolf-TV sets the tone or the best virologist is replaced by a sorcerer, we are far from a solution.

In essence, we haven’t learned much in the two years since the crisis began. And with the next lockdown, the rupture that is now going through the population will be a difficult issue to solve. Many aspects of what we have tried to cover up with “money printing out of thin air” will nevertheless become visible.

I don’t have such a dim view of hope. I think there’s a difference between being hopeful and being a sucker to illusion (lottery tickets, etc.), but I get your point. Hope is the shiny side of disappointment, yet I think it’s a big challenge to live a happy life without it. I don’t equate hope with yearning for a desired outcome, either but that is what the dictionary says it is. Maybe, for me, it’s a reminder that even in the darkest times there is light somewhere. Maybe it’s my job to find it; it’s certainly my job to remember that it’s there. I believe hope in that sense is a tool for human survival. I see that in the painting.

I was sorry to read yesterday of lockdowns again in Austria. Here you say hope cannot do much to solve the Covid-19 crisis but to me the knowledge that science CAN make progress is the essence of hope. That’s not a semi-religious superstitious belief; it’s why I am fully vaccinated. People who deny the importance of science in this struggle are not hopeful. They’re idiotic.

I figured that comment on hope might raise question marks. It would take a long time to discuss my position, but I will try in a few short sentences. In an earlier part of my life I was something of a problem solver. Also for major companies. At the latest then I learned to work in a solution-oriented manner. Define the goal clearly, have a clear schedule, check it in between, etc. When I set goals, I generally achieve them. This results in trust in me and maybe some faith (a dangerous term). But with that I no longer need the term hope in my toolbox. If, as I do again today, I hear a politician who “hopes that we will soon” ….. then he has chosen the wrong profession for me.

Being mindful of Covid is helpful because it is still raging in many areas of the world. Even when it is subdued, severe illness remains and will probably always be universal factor in human life. The sea is a metaphor for beginnings and renewal, so your theme will always be relevant.

Many years ago I was doing a bit of research related to metaphors. On the subject of the sea, I was surprised that women and men generally associate quite differently.

My work is not about deep thoughts on the subject. The sea simply stands for the vastness, the freedom – or as a projection plane for the great word freedom – another metaphor. Or just having fun painting 🙂

The dark brushstrokes are good examples of asemic writing. A masked script warning in the age of covid.

Thank you! I am doing a lot of asemic writing based on Chinese calligraphy. Happy to hear that you can see that in my work!

[…] deliberately took a short break from my Corona series. That prevents me from moving too much in the normal course. This is not new to me, when I enter […]

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