Composition is a side issue. Its role in my selection of photographs is a negative one at best. By which I mean that the fascination of a photograph is not in its eccentric composition but in what it has to say: its information content. And, on the other hand, composition always also has its own fortuitous rightness.
I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings. (Because style is violent, and I am not violent.)
I don't create blurs. Blurring is not the most important thing; nor is it an identity tag for my pictures.
I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant. I blur things so that they do not look artistic or craftsmanlike but technological, smooth and perfect. I blur things to make all the parts a closer fit. Perhaps I also blur out the excess of unimportant information.
In your pictures, does the blurring stand for the transitory nature of the content, or does it emphasize the content itself? Or is the effect of camera shake just typical of this particular mass medium in lay hands?
This superficial blurring has something to do with the incapacity I have just mentioned. I can make no statement about reality clearer than my own relationship to reality; and this has a great deal to do with imprecision, uncertainty, transience, incompleteness, or whatever. But this doesn't explain the pictures. At best it explains what led to their being painted.
In your early paintings and drawings you often smudged the contours. Was that an expression of the difficulty of making a precise statement?
Yes, that too. That was also an attempt at getting rid of the personal touch. I wanted to make it as anonymous as a photo. But it was perhaps also the wish for perfection, the unapproachable, which then means loss of immediacy. Something is missing then, though; that is why I gave that up.
How did you come up with the idea to paint these blurred photos?
I was a student, and as such you generally rely on prior models of how to make art, but these were not satisfying. Then I discovered in photos what had been missing in paintings; namely that they make a terrific variety of statements and have great substance. That is what I wanted to convey to paintings and apply to it.
On what basis do you choose your format?
I choose depending on the way I feel; randomly, in other words. When I haven't done anything for a long time, I always start small, on paper.
Chance as a theme and as method. A method of allowing something objective to come into being; a theme for creating a simile (picture) of our survival strategy:
(1) The living method, which not only processes conditions, qualities and events as they chance to happen, but exists solely as that non-static 'process', and in no other way.
(2) Ideological: denial of the planning, the opinion and the world-view whereby social projects, and subsequently 'big pictures', are created. So what I have often seen as a deficiency on my part – the fact that I've never been in a position to 'form a picture' of something – is not incapacity at all but an instinctive effort to get at a more modern truth: one that we are already living out in our lives (life is not what is said but the saying of it, not the picture but the picturing).
Your canvases always display perfect technique…
Unlike the period when one had to learn technique and train from the youngest age, today no one masters technique any more at all. Painting has become so easy – anyone can do it! – that it's often very bad. In this context, as soon as someone knows technique, it jumps out at the viewer. That said, for me technique is something obvious: it's never a problem. I've just remained extremely attached to a culture of painting. What's much more important to me is the attempt, the desire to show what I want, in the best way possible. That's why technique is useful for me. For me, perfection is as important as the image itself.
If, while I'm painting, I distort or destroy a motif, it is not a planned or conscious act, but rather it has a different justification: I see the motif, the way I painted it, is somehow ugly or unbearable. Then I try to follow my feelings and make it attractive. And that means a process of painting, changing or destroying – for however long it takes – until I think it has improved. And I don't demand an explanation from myself as to why this is so.
The smudging makes the paintings a bit more complete. When they're not blurred, so many details seem wrong, and the whole thing is wrong too. Then smudging can help make the painting invincible, surreal, more enigmatic – that's how easy it is.
With a brush you have control. The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark. From experience you know exactly what will happen. With the squeegee you lose control.
Not all control, but some control. It depends on the angle, the pressure and the particular paint I am using.