… Now I wait with tension to see if on behalf of the painting I shall stumble upon permission …
This is from Writings in Art by Per Kirkeby, edited by Asger Schnack (2012):
… I’m struggling with a rather large picture. Not wanting to bury and forget the motif and the way I’ve been painting for some considerable time. But it would seem things are not that simple. What went before forces its way through all layers of color otherwise conceived as new. Rising up like a corpse through the lid of the casket and the earth that has been cast down. A vampire needing to be impaled upon a stake. Why can’t I let things be and resign myself to this motif obviously being significant and momentous all the while it continues to restore itself from what I thought to be foreign debris?
Why not repeat, or rather exploit the same skeleton, something that was at once both an occasion and a coat peg? I try everything, at least as much as I have the courage to try. Other structures, bottom-up, top-down, from the sides and all corners. they all work in towards a kind of epicenter. And there the old motif appears again, undisturbed by marginally industrious structures. Count Dracula may lie in his casket for centuries and yet be so viciously alive at the moment the lid be pulled aside.
Courage is what is needed to force him back in and hammer down the lid. The courage to depart from familiar, mastered technique and to seek something new. A filthier approach to surface. Painting with the left hand, squeezing the paint from the tube. That’s always been anathema to me. Too cheap by half. A trick. Mixing techniques, violating their chastity, allowing oil and water to run together in pollution. Is that courage enough?
[ … ]
For a painter, my mind is bright. I am free to paint whatever I like. I don’t need to ask anyone, not even a market at the moment. And yet I am always having to do the rounds, asking for permission to do this, that or the other.
This “freestyle acceptance.” The notion that “content” is meaningful, even the most abstract stroke or bump. That a splodge of paint has its origin and its acceptance in some Byzantine mountain. Such maneuvers require a library of dimension and are but an intellectual attempt to secure acceptance in a world of unmotivated strokes and splodges. Understandable enough, though it requires only a minimum of courage to renounce.
More significant is the permission of nature: the surroundings. Is this green right? Is it simply green, a pigment, in all its noncommittedness? I need to walk over and look out of the window in order to see if I have the green that is permitted by the outside
[ … ]
… I secure the permission of Utrillo to let matters take their course. His appearance is quite unexpected. For a brief time in my youth, spurred by the critics of the day, I believed him to be among the greats. And yet he was quickly consigned to darkness as the kitsch painter of Montmartre with Sacré Coeur in the background. Glimpses of bold and sonorous color of unusual substance. Use of pink, and enticement populating the streets and terrain vague that his motifs also sought out. Pictures with impermissible liaisons of technique. Color directly from the tube, kneaded into a dough of feelings. This is the permission of a doubtful character. But still permission.
As a result of this permission, the picture quickly became overgrown, losing its Kandinskian clarity. The picture turned itself into “Melancholia’s black sun.”
… Now I wait with tension to see if on behalf of the painting I shall stumble upon permission to find new clarity and temporary order.