Img. 1, “Oranta”, 2003, acrylic on MDF, 132 x 132 cm, collection Katholische Akademie, Munich. Photo © Peng Li

Since I often have been asked about rhythm in my painting, I decided to write down my thoughts on the subject. First I want to emphasize that rhythm is only one of several properties of painting, with which I deal while applying the colour. A successful painting surely includes other components.

Img. 2, “Eliakim”, 2004, acrylic on MDF, 73 x 70 cm, collection Guangdong Museum of Art, China. Photo © Antje Hanebeck

What is rhythm? Biological rhythm is caused by periodic states and changes of organisms; in poetry rhythm is considered as sequences of different accent patterns within the constancy of the verse metre; in language rhythm is defined as the temporal division of speech; the rhythm in music is the accent patterns designated through the sequence of different note values that overlay the basic pulse. But what is rhythm in painting?

Img. 3, “Lamed”, 2002, acrylic on MDF, 132 x 132 cm, private collection Munich. Photo © Bernard Larsson

During my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich I was looking for a polarity in painting: I wanted to avoid spacial representations and instead produce a difference, in which the colour remains on the surface and yet wins visual vastness. For not loosing control in my experiments with the properties of colour, I was looking for a way of organizing the surface that should provide me with an obvious entry and a clear conclusion in painting. So I have developed a basic model, which divides the surface into equal intervals of numerical impulses such as 1/4 (Img. 1), 1/9, 1/16 (Img. 2), 1/25 or 1/36 (Img. 3). Such metre encourages not only the concentration of spontaneous choices between events, but also causes a conscious attitude towards the pace, in which colours can be attached on surfaces.

Img. 4, “Untitled”, 2009, watercolour on paper, 50 x 55,5 cm, private collection Starnberg. Photo © Klaus Mauz

According to the division of the surface I focused my thoughts on the procedure of the movement in painting. The moment in which the colour touches the surface I take as a unit that is formed by rhythmic accentuations e.g. 2,3,1 or 1,1,2 or 1,6 etc. and then gives shape applying the colour.

To clarity the use of metre and rhythm in my work, I suggest three examples. In the watercolour-painting “Untitled” (Img. 4) of 2009 I used 3 primary colours: magenta (M), cyan (C), yellow (Y) and white (W). Here I selected magenta (M) as a dominant colour and I combined it successively with W, C, Y and then together with WCY. To avoid the monotony during the addition of colour, I decided to use the rhythmic motif 2,1,1,1 and the metre 1/4. This resulted in 4 colour sequences that began with MW, MC, MY, MYCW:





Img. 5, “Schwarze Milch”, 2010, 185 x 200, oil on MDF, photo (c) Klaus Mauz

For the painting “Schwarze Milch” (Img. 5) I used the metre  1/9 and the rhythmic motif 1,2,3,2.

Img. 6, “Partytura”, 2010, 60 x 50 cm, chalk on polyester, photo (c) Klaus Mauz

In “Partytura” (Img. 6), I tried to use a polyrhythmic motif with two levels of metre: the metre 1/9 with the rhythm 1,6 and the metre 1/4 with the rhythm 2,3,1.

Since painting means the application of colours on a surface using a tool, it results in motions side by side in space and motion that occuer one after another in time, which make a specific physiognomy. This motion divides itself into repetitive accents – and that is their rhythm.

Thanks for help realizing this text to Prof. Bernhard Lypp, Stefan Schessl and Marion Sally Amy Whyte

One thought on “RHYTHM IN MY PAINTING”

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