painting from my inner ghosts
Punchlines in the Medium of Painting
Painting abstractly, yet bringing a certain subject to view: that sounds like a contradiction at first: if we generally understand under “subject” something concrete—an object, a motif—abstract art is characterized precisely by the fact that it avoids fixations, that is, is maximally open in terms of meaning. In his series paintings from my inner ghosts, Rolf Sellmann works on a synthesis of these two modes of representation.
To put this more vividly: he takes the bull by the horns, even literally in his painting el toro. The bull that the artist evokes in his title consists of countless red and pink-shaded scraps. As if they captured by a centrifugal force, they swirl around the visual surface. What might the subject be that Sellmann here takes up? Maybe the bullfight in which the torero infuriates the bull using a red cape?
That might have been the point of departure. But as soon as the artist placed the underpainting, the artistic process begins to take on a life of its own. This means it takes leave of consciousness: while Sigmar Polke reacts to otherworldly painting instructions in his series Höhere Wesen befehlen, dripping with irony, Sellmann recalls an impulse from his “inner ghosts.”
But irony is also not unfamiliar to him. This is reflected in paintings with titles such as fly like an eagle (even if you are a sparrow) or I still haven't found what I am looking for—but I know it must be pink. But Unlike Polke, this is not about a visual gag. Rolf Sellmann places his punchline on the canvas solely using the medium of painting.
Text by Dr. Jörg Restorff (Kunsthistoriker and Journalist)