Gunter Damisch once said that art had something to do with enjoying life, with “growing into life“. He expressed this “growing into life” and enjoyment of art in various ways: paintings, ceramics, aluminium sculptures, bronze sculptures, drawings, photographs, collages, screen prints. He described his process of working as “primarily inconsistent. Omission and duplication. Camouflage and expression.” He went further, saying: “I am not interested in becoming a specialist in a particular genre. Rather, I want to use various methods to pose questions.” Whenever his painting was described as “literary”, he gently corrected this, saying, no, he was not interested in telling stories. In fact, he was not depicting the world. However, he was a creator of worlds, using his series of colours in tangles and piles, using smears and grazes, using his smudgy, barbed flagellates and matchstick figures to open up the space of the two-dimensional canvas into eternity: into the unknown universe that art has the duty to explore. (Andrea Schurian: Gunter Damisch 1958-2016, Der Standard, 2016)
Painting the All
At the very beginning of his career, around 1980, Gunter Damisch found himself in a conversation with a friend and colleague. They were talking about the future, their projects and concepts, when his friend suddenly came up with a plan: he was going to paint the Nothing. Faced with such a tall claim, Damisch felt he had no choice but to counter, in that case, he would paint the All.
Art as massage of the nerve cells
Gunter Damisch in conversation with Sabine B.Vogel
SBV: In this book you aggregate (how many?) pictures – what characterizes this group of works?
GD: Here, it is mainly graphic constructions and less the other formal focus of my pictorial practice, thinking in layers, in a paint-matter, which can be lumpy, non-homogeneous, an almost earthy surface…as if an evolutionary process would bring about the picture. Sketches are not my point of departure, rather I would want the picture to establish a history that results in a specific picture in the end.