Saturday, 16 December 2017

Bas Ketelaars / Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich
Der Mönch am Meer
oil on canvas
110 x 171,5 cm
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Looking at the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich I see atmosphere and structure. The Monk by the Sea (Der Mönch am Meer 1808-1810) is probably his most radical piece of work. This painting shows an overwhelming emptiness with the weight of the whole cosmos. More than just a landscape it shows nature in its most comprehensive form. Nature and its experience by the lonely figure in the foreground, of whom I can’t really tell whether he’s a part of it or not. 

Although it’s known that Friedrich painted his images rather quick and accurate after looking a long time at the empty canvas, in this picture you can still see the traces of two small fishing boats in the horizon which were eventually painted over. With this correction he brings pure abstraction suddenly very close by.  

For myself the works of Friedrich were one of the reasons to focus on landscape drawings. The one shown here is the first of a series of drawings in large format. In this drawing there’s a lot of trial and error, several systems are visible next to each other. The only part uncorrected is the foreground which is, just like you see often in Friedrich’s paintings, clearly distinct from the background. Yet together they produce the landscape.

Bas Ketelaars, 2017

Bas Ketelaars
Untitled (searching C.D.#1)
graphite on paper
150 x 170 cm
collection AMC

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