Introverted extraversion - extraverted introversion
by Stefan à Wengen (2013)
Translated by Barbara Wagner
The painter's interim loneliness in the studio is an essential prerequisite for the creation of his work. The writer, too, spends lonely hours in front of his laptop and lacks any social presence. Nevertheless, such lonely and, so to speak, introverted hours of work are not necessarily deprivation or must even be felt as drudgery occasionally. C. G. Jung in his psychological typology used the adjectives introverted and - as an antonym - extraverted. So painters and writers are introverted fellows too; they do introvert, even if only temporarily, during the period of their creative work. It is, of course, the simplicity of means that allows the painter his introversion; he does not need collaborations, specialists, technicians, or equipment that needs to be handled by more than one person in order to execute his work. And, of course, a hint of genius hovers over his intimate, introvert doing; the grand master painter every now and then endows the world with a new masterpiece from his quiet chamber whose emergence happened in complete secret. Or are these rather tricks and ruses the painter has to use or adopt in order to circumvent a certain inability here and there in the execution of his ideas that he does not want to reveal or even share?
The Swiss gallery owner Bruno Bischofberger in 1983 persuaded Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, and Jean-Michal Basquiat to create collaborative artworks according to his idea and to test their ability to cooperate in this way. Thus, between 1983 and 1985 a series of large canvases were created that combined the style elements of the three crowd pullers of his gallery. Only rarely, however, did the three heroes of the art market work on the canvases simultaneously; on the contrary, the works were begun by one of the artists, then transported to another, and so each could respond in painterly fashion to what was already painted. One allegedly complemented the other or reacted on him, while the third one made a fuss but nevertheless tolerated that one painted over his response to the first. All three remained true to their own style and just put their recognizable trade marks next, into, and close to each other. Warhol mostly began by painting, in acrylic, household devices or, for example, the brand logo of General Electrics appropriated by him; Clemente thereafter added his painterly-symbolist groups of figures, and Basquiat complemented the works with his collages of text and sketches.
Exactly thirty years later, the group deckkraft, consisting of the two Dusseldorf painters Walter Eul and Marc von Criegern, previously practiced in collaboration, invited seven highly valued colleagues to each paint one work along with them. 1 Unlike Bischofberger's project, deckkraft's endeavor does not draw upon commercial expectations - alone the size of the resulting paintings, each approximately 350 x 600 cm, makes a sale nearly impossible. On the contrary, deckkraft as a group aims at putting to the test and to share mutual inspiration and individual experience with the respective invited painter. In the collective process of painting, a painting was developed as well as painted collectively from beginning to end. The astonishing thing was the respective matching consensus; a seemingly subtle and sensitive scanning testified mutual respect and encouraged each of the seven artists' individuality, whose traces, individual elements of style and painterly dictions remained legible on the canvases. However, at no time during the process of creation of the seven paintings the risk of narcissist over-assertiveness of the respective painter invited by deckkraft existed. It was not the fuss over the other and therefore the enforcement of one's own standing that had priority, but the collective goal to create a work that, each on its own - for deckkraft and the invited artists - on the one hand reflected their own signature, but that, on the other hand - and different from Bischofberger's artist egos - was taken back to the extent that the Own and the Other could melt peaceably. There were created eruptive and erratic, figurative and abstract, even humorous and at times melancholic paintings, and even painting aligned with photography emerged.
However, the enjoyment of the collaborative work did not rule out the longing to introvert again and to crave the solitude of creation in the studio. With some newly gained good experiences, tricks and ruses, one could look forward to this again, while deckkraft, in an extraverting way, continues their collective project.
At long last, Andy Warhol, after his experience in collaboration, and after twenty years of screen printing, took back to the brush, while Basquiat turned to Warhol's domain and began working with the technique of screen printing.
1Ted Green, Robert Klümpen, Roman Lang, Daniel Man, Peter Pommerer, Robert Pufleb, Stefan à Wengen