The Deutschland Family Series
Painting, for me, means telling stories, using color and line, to express myself. Inherent in my aesthetic process is the relationship between the paintings which I paint and the life that I live. Two milestones made me think about my heritage, my roots and my life; turning 60 and receiving American Citizenship. These events inspired me to revisit and relate some highly personal history in a series of paintings which I call The Deutschland Series.
As a child, I remember seeing photographs in my mother’s old handbag. Some of them were very graphic and disturbing, like one of my injured Father. Unsurprisingly, these images have always remained ingrained in my memory. When I finally decided it was time to use some of them as the background and for the groundwork in some paintings so began this body of work. Because these are so personal and important to me, I decided to explain the different backgrounds of each painting next to each one to underscore these images importance to me. Even though they are not all visually relatable, they were all chosen because there is certain loneliness or a provocative happiness generated bythese photographs that is often discordant or disturbing especially when viewing the paintings sequentially. These feelings relate to the fact that I am part of a generation of Germans that never got an answer or an explanation about the truth from the generation before us. I felt that I had to be thankful and obedient and quietly accept being raised with soft meaningless TV shows, non-stop soft mindless radio music and a Happy Rosy World. The underlying contrast and the confusion it wrought are still deeply felt by me.
To me, these paintings are important. They attempt to depict truth about the Post-World War II Generation to be seen in a world, where Germany is once again succeeding as a leading nation in Europe. These paintings are meant to serve as a reminder. Where we came from, how humble, weak, and insecure we were, and how much love we needed. How there are still deep scars. Maybe this generation needs to make different decisions and choices. When Germany is confronted with nations that need their help right now, such as Cypress or Greece, maybe they need to remember what happened previously.
To conclude, I have ended this series with a collection of original obituaries from 1898 to 1960 (the year my father died). The people in these documents are members of my family or friends. Some fought in World War I. One was in World War II. My father’s first wife is there, his son, all good wonderful people. These last documents are preserved between two pieces of Plexiglas which hang before a large mirror. When the viewer comes closer to look at the pictures of a Holy Mary or a dying Jesus on the back sides of these forms, they are confronted by their own eyes looking back at them through the mirror.