The Poetry of Colour
© Markus Muth, 2016
I felt honoured when Michael Maschka approached me with the request to say a few words about his art. He knew that I love his paintings. Therefore his request was obvious. He also knew that I do not write about art professionally and that I would not attempt to do so. Therefore his request was also risky.
My text will not be a learning theory, neither art-historical nor art critical and will also not illuminate philosophical aspects of the topic art. Whoever yearns for this should cover his needs, to his heart's content, at a well assorted magazine stand, on the internet or in bookstores or libraries of his choice with the numerous articles and books that have already been published. I will not deliver anything comparable. I will approach the topic differently. Even if I and my text will be publicly torn asunder for this, I will write about what the term “art” means for me personally and what fascinates me – once again very personally – about the works of Michael Maschka.
I don't know about you but I know a whole row of “completely normal” people far off from the institutionalised art scene and business – whose standard of things seems to be stereotyped thinking in genres, categories, academical degrees etc. as well as the quantification of artists and their works in clicks, Facebook friendships, likes, tweets and re-tweets, being mentioned by name in publications, circulation figures, sales figures and prizes, auction results and the like – who for the lack of more expressive synonyms can only describe works of art in “simple” adjectives such as beautiful, aesthetically appealing, mysterious, ingenious. And yet exactly there, where words fail and the vocabulary is missing, we are dealing with an essential feeling that is common to us all when we encounter a true work of art: the feeling which emanates from the unfathomable strength residing in these works that allows us to forget our daily trot for a spell and permits us to take a pause within ourselves. Sometimes it is only these tiny moments, such as the “wow” effect that beguile us to a nod of recognition, which we often use to underline the dimension of our astonishment and gladly also accompany with the articulation of a sound. Or the deep breath, that precedes the silence before a spontaneous sigh. Or the emotional upsurge of happiness and gratitude that conjure up a dreamy smile on our lips that zooms radiantly from deep within or stirs others to tears of joy. The effect of this force does not always express itself in the same manner and intensity, but hardly anyone would want to deny that he has not experienced something similar in the face of a real work of art. Personally, when I think of art it is exactly such works that touch me in my innermost, that enthuse me, that linger in me long afterwards, that inspire me, that enrich my life in a way that I would prefer to stroke them again and again with my eyes, as an embracement of them is as a rule understandably impossible. Artworks of this kind outlast every fashion as they possess their own inherent immortality. They carry something everlasting, a godly spark within themselves.
For me artwork are not the things that one tries to sell me as art because the artist e.g. is at present in or hype or someone hyped his works as an investment with profitable appreciation potential. Please do not misunderstand me. It is far from me to denounce the commercialised, disillusioned world in which the art factory and art circus, work hand in hand and nourish one or the other family. This artificial world may, undisturbed by myself, continue to grow and proliferate. I only want to clarify that my concept of art follows my own different logic. I ask myself – without seeing myself as a prophet – if this work of art which touches and enthuses me here and now, will also touch and enthuse coming generations in the same manner. There are innumerable works of art that have managed this off the cuff. Works that have anchored themselves in the collective memory of mankind. Authentic works of genuine art that were created by exceptional artists hundreds of years ago, whose great names I do not need to mention as they are known to you.
In my opinion Michael Maschka is such an exceptional artist, a downright master painter, because, as I tried to present in my introduction, in every aspect his works already satisfy my personal art concept. His compositions, which with nuanced colourfulness and their own inner glow are outstanding, are not only carried out in a masterly workmanship. No, they especially pick up themes that reflect Michael's constant search for the archetypes that slumber in our subconscious which make them virtually magic for me. They present me, as the observer, not lastly through mythological and alchemical tones, with subtle mysteries that appeal to levels of consciousness, whose quiet voice, which has to rise up against an ever louder exterior world, to challenge me to interpret myself anew. One divines that the symbolical, archetypical messages that shine discreetly throughout his paintings, arise out of the vocabulary of the subconsciousness that cannot be transmitted into words, that Michael Maschka like a second mother tongue can articulate lyrically in shape and colour with a paintbrush. Therefore my sight is captured again and again by the individual elements in the paintings that allow their subtle messages to become visually, expertly audible. I would like to dream myself into these paintings, stroll through them with my eyes, to absorb them in all their dimensions – their depth, grandness, their breadth and timelessness – because they try to make the invisible visible for me, by, to quote Michael, “bringing the inner and outer pictures in harmony”.
Michael Maschka also understands how to approach the creations, which arise out of his rich fantasy, and with which he populates his paintings, with due respect and regard to their very own dignity. One has the feeling that he wants to gently caress the figures that he has created, not to offend them with too much colour and contour. And where nakedness is presented in his works it acts – despite and because of the sensual beauty of the main leading ladies – as natural and graceful, noble, elegant clothing, which would outstrip the rank of every exquisite Haute Couture creation. I especially like Michael's game to put in his paintings detailed, sometimes nearly photo realistic representations in a mystical fantastic context, with which he confuses many a viewer, who at the beginning can hardly believe that what he sees in front of him has arisen out of the finest paintbrush strokes at the easel of the painter. Michael has in his own style excelled at transmitting topics long believed outdated, deeply rooted in myths, in the manner of the old masters and in outmoded meticulousness, expertly into our times and indisputably shown that they have in no way, not even in one grain, lost any of their erstwhile topicality. For me this alone is a characteristic feature that cannot be honoured highly enough and which distinguishes the uniqueness of his art.
I do not want to approach the contents of his paintings with intellectual instruments of the desire to rationally understand and the compulsive need to explain things into which our disillusioned society has, in what might be a great cardinal mistake, allowed itself to be drilled. Michael Maschka's paintings are simply too “beautiful” and too good for me to want to harm them by a vivisection into their elements, to subsequently coat them with brittle formulations in sentences without shine and soul. I think that Michael Maschka's excellent works speak for themselves in that they very closely correspond to the confession to beauty, the ideal that Michael Maschka repeatedly tries to approach in words in his novel Der Meisterträumer. His paintings are a credibly transmitted vision of the beautiful and sublime, which in fairytale like representation unite sense and sensuality atmospherically in a honed way of painting. For me the genuine works of art by Michael Maschka are like a flighty dream whose magic he has understood to capture gently without imparing it. Therefore one should approach them with the heart and not with intellectual coldness. I personally see in them a coloured stanza set to music, the verse of a poem masterfully breathed onto canvas. To really describe the true nature of Michael Maschka's paintings I would need to invent a language in which one can sing words in colour.