Wo gibt’s Remmers?
An assessment of myself as a painter.
Of course, I am not an art historian or theorist or even a critic, I am a painter, an artist, and I want to serve art with my life. I live with colours and forms. I live with unpainted pictures, with pictures that want to reveal themselves, to become visible to the human eye. My easel is the place of this birth. From the not yet visible the pictures are born into the visible. I am there, like a midwife, accompanying this birth. But my activity goes beyond that of a midwife, I am also an executor, a creator.
Like a sleeper who wakes up in the morning hour by a ray of sunlight hitting his eye through the bedroom window, but wakes up from a dream that led him in a cold winter, in a hut by an open fire. Staring into the fire, forgetting himself, the last day in ice and snow unfolds before his inner eye. Then he wakes up because it seems that the fire has become so hot that it threatens to scorch his face. The whole dream is focused on waking up. The ray of sunlight, which was the first trigger, comes to the end in the dream, in the shape of the fire, which becomes too hot. The whole dream goes backwards in time, yet it has an inner chronology that leads to the necessary end. The dream is a messenger of a world where our laws of space and time are no longer valid.
So it is with an image that emerges, the emerged image announces a process that had to go beforehand in our world, necessarily chronologically one layer after the other, one colour after the other, one form after the other. At the beginning of this process, however, the picture, though still unpainted, is nevertheless already there. In this world where our laws of time and space do not work. The cause of my trade lies in the future, namely the sometime finished picture, but this finds its origin in its spiritual archetype. The easel is the threshold between these two worlds, between this world and the other.
In reverse, the painting becomes a window through which we can look up to the spiritual archetype. From there, our world in the world of gods and spirits. As early as the time of the mummification of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt, the custom arose of painting a mask face in place of the face that had been left free of bandages, as a window between the realm of the living and the dead. The oldest preserved icons date from the fifth and sixth centuries. During the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Fathers of the Church spoke about icons, saying that in contemplating them, the faithful should lift their spirits from the images to the original images.
This contemplation is not an intellectual process, not a process of thinking, but a direct perception with the heart. Experiencing the spirit with the heart. And this is a highly topical theme in art. Contemporary art is characterised by an intellectualism that consumes everything spiritual. Proclaiming an art of emptiness as True Art. Only when thinking has to be penetrated in order to understand what our eye sees in collections of material is a work “demanding”, “documenta-worthy”. What does such art give to our society?
Such art stimulates to think, to reflect, to form a thousand opinions: to separate. It supports the development towards even more individualisation, ultimately towards being separate from each other and from the spiritual in us and around us. One could speak of the anti-icons of contemporary art.
When people touch, they open up and connect. When a painting touches its viewer in the heart, the viewer can open up, connect with the original image. It is not only in this sense that I paint contemporary icons.
Icons have always been windows into the spiritual world, designed according to the consciousness of humanity. To the same extent that a direct, living relationship to the world of the spirit was lost, the art of icon painting solidified in a corset of rules and man-made ideas of how an icon should be and with what means it should be painted. Apart from the smallest developments influenced by the respective zeitgeist, there were hardly any new impulses in icon painting.
Contemporary iconography is also supposed to be an expression of the striving for autonomy vis-à-vis the structure of tradition that is entrenched in the church.
Icon painting is revelatory painting, it reveals the spirit in the image. If it is true that mankind is developing, his consciousness is developing, and in my opinion the world of the spirit is also in a constant state of development, then icon painting today is a painting that is apocalyptic in the true sense of the word. Its task is to make this progress of the world of the spirit and of the human being accessible in pictures for the looking hearts of people.
And this is where I stand as an icon painter.
For my pictures I use first-class materials, which is a very first basic prerequisite for the pictures to become a carrier of spiritual archetypes.
I use high-quality hand-woven canvas from Belgium as a support for my pictures, on top of which I apply a primer consisting of glue water and powdered marble or plaster, which is applied several times before painting or gilding. Both before the first coat of paint or imprint and between the different layers of paint, sanding is done each time after drying, so that a dense surface is created.
Just as in early Ukrainian icon painting certain motifs were often carved into the wooden panel, I carve motifs relating to the painting into the ground of mormor flour and glue with cassein and oil.
As early as the end of the 16th century, icon painting in the Ukrainian city of Lvov was done with a mixture of oil paint and egg tempera. So I can feel free to use both oil paint and egg tempera for my icons.
For my varnish layers I cook my own amber varnish from amber, which I also use to weave light into my paintings between the layers of colour.
I work with strong, expressive and definite forms, renouncing the rules of painterly realism, thus removing the ego-centredness of both the artist and the viewer.
Each painting becomes a face, becomes a border between heaven and earth, becomes a mirror surface for the primordial phenomena of our world, in the sense of Goethe’s Urpflanze, forms a link bridging the discontinuity between the world of dreams and the world we experience during the day. The picture should have a “presence” character; it should call for inner activity, illuminate and illuminate the space with its presence.
In the sense of Klee, I can conclude by saying:
Genesis as a permanent process of perpetual creation becomes a revelation of the spirit, with the artist as mediator between this world and the beyond.