How an Idea Takes Root and Persists

Friedrich ZettlMy Featured Blogger this week is Austrian artist Friedrich Zettl. I admit to being picky about abstract art. Too often, it seems, there is little going on in abstract art but abstraction. The opposite is true of Friedrich, who is a respected historian and authority on Chinese art (and it shows). There is so much “going on” in his work that I find myself irresistably drawn to it. Below, he gives us some insights into why this is so. Read on, and I promise you’ll be both delighted and intrigued. Then do yourself a favor and click here to follow him!

poetry from the sky as abstract calligraphy against a landscape painting

Last time I announced that I would write about the background of a new series I might call Poetry from the Sky. That seems sensible to me because it shows how long it can often take an idea to develop or how long it accompanies you.

When I was a student, I went on a trip with 2 friends to a magnificent ruin. We skipped class because we had been treated with an unusually beautiful autumn day. After visiting the ruin we walked around. Behind the ruins, there was a large meadow and further behind and on one side a forest. We made ourselves comfortable on a large flat piece of rock in the middle of the meadow and chilled.

Suddenly one of us saw something high in the air. We puzzled over what it was and gradually it became clear to us. They were leaves! A not inconsiderable number, that danced and floated down. And right towards us. We couldn’t explain how that was possible – here in the middle of a very large meadow. Later I explained to myself with thermals, that the heat in the meadow and the coolness of the forest probably caused a suction.
2-3 years ago I took up the topic (image #1). I have already presented the picture before, sorry!

I remember having a similar experience when I was a kid. Winter. I’m visiting my grandma. Cold, damp day that brought snow and ice during the night. When I looked out the window in the morning, it was partially obscured by a twig frozen to the window. That impressed me a lot and so I also captured this impression in a picture 2 years ago. (image #2).

A few years ago I escaped the summer heat in the city and visited friends in the country. At night we sat on the large veranda of the house and marveled at the starry sky and countless shooting stars. Lights were off throughout the house, but light poured out of a skylight, forming an illuminated cone in the air. And all of a sudden, something slipped through that cone. Very light and prancing, like a dragon. It must have been a long, narrow, thin band. Someone then said it might have been the tape of a music cassette because it had a reddish hue.

I remembered the beginning scene of Akira Kurosawa‘s film Kagemusha (影武者 Shadow Warrior). The scene where the mounted warriors ride down a steep slope – like thick red snowflakes. Red because Kurosawa had the horses’ manes dyed with henna so that they glowed red in the sun’s backlight. For me, that was poetry from the sky.

The first thing I then painted on it wasn’t ideal as I was painting on a canvas that wasn’t optimal for this purpose. (image #3). So I made a change and it came out like this (image #4).

Since then, something has stuck in the back of my mind: characters that float down from the sky like leaves or something similar and write a poem at the same time.

In a new series, I have now started to treat the subject more abstractly and my work is moving in this direction.

poetry from the sky as abstract calligraphy against a landscape painting

This first attempt seems a bit crude. I didn’t want to continue working on it, lest I have to give up the most spontaneous, “innocent” aspect. So I tried another version, which is now more painterly, and spatial, and shows spherical inner workings.

calligraphy and music, ink on yupo ppaer

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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14 Responses to How an Idea Takes Root and Persists

  1. Thank you so much! How kind of you!🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mitch, what a delight to see you feature Friedrich’s work!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. An Audience of One says:

    Wow! Beautiful paintings, and I love the story behind it all. We don’t usually have that benefit, and it makes the artistry meaningful, as well as lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike U. says:

    Congratulations, Friedrich, for being selected Featured Blogger of the Week! It’s a well deserved honor. 🙂 And well done to you, Mitch, for featuring such a visionary talent as Friedrich. His work is contemplative and surreal and incredibly original–breath-taking artistry from a wonderful person. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also find myself drawn to Frederich’s abstract art. I would love to visit his exhibit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dawn Marie says:

    Hauntingly fascinating…. Hugs once again to you Mitch – you’ve got a great artistic eye for talent!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love Friedrich’s painting of the ginkgo leaves with the characters floating downward. I also checked out his website and admired one of his abstract paintings with a very small Santa in his sleigh being pulled out of the corner of the picture by his reindeer. Super! Thanks for featuring his work, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thotaramani says:

    The painting seems written in some language Mitch! Isn’t it .

    Liked by 1 person

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