C E L A N    J O U R N E Y

I N T R O D U C T I O N

For a decade now I have been fascinated by the work of the Romanian, German-speaking poet Paul Celan (1920, Czernowitz, Romania - 1970, Paris) whose poems provide me with reasons to paint. In The Journey I follow the trail of Celan, straight through Europe. Shortly after World War II he fled the Russian occupier in his birthplace of Czernowitz and traveled via Bucharest, Budapest and Vienna to Paris. The Celan project stems from an interest in the history of Europe, the German language, romanticism and its greatest poets.

 

E U R O P E
Paul Celan is considered to be one of the most important poets of the 20th century. Almost one hundred years after his birth, the visual power of his language has not diminished. The historic backdrop against which his life took place remains topical. In The Journey I hold the life story of Celan to the light of European history and the current era, and reflect upon this in my work. It is important to consider Europe, also from Celan’s perspective and that of his contemporaries and peers, in the current era in which peace, freedom, prosperity and solidarity are synonymous with the spirit in which Europe took shape after World War II but are never taken for granted.

P A I N T I N G   A N D   P O E T R  Y 

Years of studying Rainer Maria Rilke resulted in the series Am Rande der Nacht after the like-named poem. From there I began delving deeper into Celan’s poetry. It took time to absorb the poetry and the language, and required courage to paint through Celan’s language. I have been painting Celan’s poems since 2008. The poem-lecture Der Meridian, the speech given by Celan at the presentation of the Georg Büchner prize in 1960, plays an important role in my work. It is a passionate plea for life and art, the eternal elixir of life that moves, contradicts and therefore survives; a plea for an ultimate, perhaps sublime individual existence. Celan's poems and his language that alter thought structures, are a rich source for me as painter and visual artist. From Der Meridian: “The poem maintains itself on the edge of itself; it calls and takes in order to continue to exist, to constantly return from no-longer-being-there to always-being-there.”