Those who rely on chance to leave the ordered paths of our consciousness while painting can be surprised by the colors that result. The surrealists used this strategy in many ways. An often quoted statement by Max Ernst: “Collage is the systematic exploitation of the coincidental or artificially provoked coupling of two or more essentially different realities upon a plane which apparently does not suit them, and the spark of poetry that results from the encounter of these realities.”
Rolf Sellman’s group of works takes Max Ernst’s techniques of chance, frottage, grattage, and drip painting as a point of departure.
In these images, he applies ink to the canvas, lets the paint dry briefly and then tosses water at the upright canvas using a large brush. The artist then influences the flow of the fluid and hence mobile paint by turning the canvas.
But chance retains the upper hand, and is additionally captured for “eternity” in that Sellmann emphasizes the arbitrary forms and trickles with a paint stick.
He himself refers to a triple leap: “Principle construction-destruction-construction.” Whatever remains—of and on the painting, when control is abandoned, when art is left to its own accord? In this case, a fantastic and quite dynamic visual structure.
Explosive forms cavort across the canvas, spiked stars appear, outspreading branches take over the entire surface. “The spark of poetry” that Max Ernst refers to, in viewing these so spontaneous-seeming images from the series whatever remains is released with lightening speed.