„DIETER VIEG – MEINE PAPPENHEIMER“ 2003
Catalogue published by: Kunstverein in Rosenheim 2003 / Kunsthaus Hamburg 2004

THE FIGURE OF
It is said poetry has become impersonal since Baudelaire.
THE ARTIST
Max Ernst said the same of painting, when joined the Surrealist movement. He claimed that the legend of artistic creativity had been „irrevocably destroyed.“
THE ROLL OF „PORTRAITS“
It does not concern a losss but a resitance to assumptions: Holding-back the subjective
IN DIETER VIEG´S ART

A restriction of subjective caprice in the creative process and the carryind out of proconceived pans with specivied means have, at least since the beginning of 20th Century, become less interesting to artists. These restriction were replaced by a more or less dedicated spontaneous devotion to an event beyond one´s self. The uniqueness of the artist was substituted by the uniqueness of his absence. Instead of confirming his art-historical validity, the artist withdrew in favour of a space „in which the ...subject repeatedly disappears.“ (1).
Why repeat the question of the artist´s image? The Surrealist revolution dutifully consumed it children and bore Dieter Vieg. Almost a century after Duchamp and co, hequestions his famous teachers and masters in the form of portraits. Since the invention of photography, portrait painting has become obsolete, but the question of the artist´s personality has not:
His independence, determination, self-assessment and the creation of his own mythical identily. Talking about one´s self and work always assisted the discovery of basic truth. The artist has himself become principle wittness for his own case. Taking action from this position, quasi with a self-pledge and advanced trust, he spreads truth and knoledge across the globe. The truth the vision, extends beyonds self-consciousness and, with the right to communicate it voicesit to the world. What remains of the artist on the edge of self-dissolution and self-destruction? What is left of him, after legends of the avant-garde artist (2) and of art´s autonomy have been exposed? In the mass art-movements have become borderline 
Phenomena. They could be compared with medieval tuition inwriting Bible texts with  quills or in carving gargoyles on Gothic Cathedrlas.
Where  else could a search for answers begin but in the regal disciplin of self-inquisition and self-discovery: the self-portrait! Vieg´s self-questioning is directed at his own roots.  How could it be otherwiese? Of teachers and masters grasps back to on of the oldest subject of painting, but hardly in to gain self-confidence  or even to discover where painting or art it self could be going. The would anyway be a hopeless venture. How could a dicipline, like painting, that has lost it unique status  and ist greatest privilege regain lost teritory? The production of imegery has been taken  over  by industry. In this context Vieg´s attempt to recover art´s independence sees ironical. It´s an irony comparable to a bird´s cry for freedom after the cage door has been securely locked. As long as it remains closed, as long as there is no hope and there is no risk of the situation changing, irony ist he prven for rearranging one´s self in a reasonably intelligent manner. Carried by such scepticism and melacholy, the portraits open a new dicossion concerning the image of the artist. The title of the series „Meine Pappenheimer“ (Those i know inside-out) Aready  indicates the irony of the mirror game.  Those depicted were once members of the Avant-garde, part of an elite cavaliely. (3). However has switched the teacher-student relationship  around.When he states that he knows yesterday´s avant-garde stars all too well, he implicates that also knows their weaknesses.
Vieg´s gallery of old masters utilises the silhouette, an antiquated form of portraiture that was popular in the Biedermeier oeriod. He tops the zest of the educated bourgeois by adding his personal manifest aphorims to his former teacher´s names. For exmaple: Sigmar Polke: „One is seither grey or pills don´t help.“ Claus Böhmler:„Should art have a purpose or be pointless?“ Herman Nitsch: „Just let it run.“ Himi Burmeister: „Too simple so simple.“
As basis fort he portraits, Vieg made pencil drvings from photographs. These were enlarged and transferred to the canvas with an episcope, a technique that indicates a return to classical painting and also implies a conceptual approach to the art of portraiture. The counterfeits of his teachers remain schematic, almost  unreco-gnisable.He weaves them into an ornamenzal pattern, a sceen consisting of thou-sands,meanwhile tens of thousands, of coloured dots. The image of the depicted person is almost blotted out, yet  another indication of Vieg´s conceptual approach to portraiture. A likness of the portrayed teacher remains schematic,  almost unidenti-fiable.Simultaneously the paintings appear to contain coded messages and make comments on the persons portrayed. Yes, these are more direct  than the portrait it´s self. As ifVieg mistrusts the uniqque importance and personal charisma of his artist-teacher, he depicts them as tamed, absorbed in endless raster-screens and serial structures.These, apperently ornamental, additions are the keys to the complex masters. AsStanley Brown does not allow himself to be photographed, Vieg trncformed his refusal into a portrait, by cutting out the area of  canvas here the master´s head should have been. The view through the canvas and stretchers reveals the naked wall behind. This portrait consequentially  displays the absence of the depicted person. If photography fails, painting can´t  help.
Vieg has pushed portraiture over the edge. Beyond this borderline, a clear judgemt of that which you are  seeing is questionable. Whatever the case, we are not confronted with portraits or paintings. These works are definitely not  „painted.“ Perhaps they are „dotted“? There is no adequate denotation for Vieg´s self-invented method of applying paint. However, is spezial process has proved constructive for his „as-if“ paintings. They contain very few indications of „traditional“ portrait-painting techniques,  in fact only pigments and mediums for binding them to the  canvas.. (On  occasion Vieg even paints directly on the wall.) Oil Paint, mixed with a small amount of tranparent medium, is appplied with common medical syrings to the pictorial-surface, which usually lays horizontally on a table or the floor. Hemispherical knobs, precisely formed drips, are formed on the canvas. The effect created immmeasurably increases the intensity of the phenomena that we are accustomed to call colour. The „actual“ motif however, remains a schematic vision behind an „event“ composed of the ten thousand coloured nodules. Dieter Vieg describes his technique precisely as „A picture created on a picture.“Only a few weeks after completing his studies he assisted making jelly sweets on the production line of a large confectionary firm. He was fascinated by the conveyor-belt production methods. A mass of coloured jelly were filled into prepared pastry forms. Colour was created in and by the forms. An optimal for maximises the visual effect of colour.
Baudelaire sought to protect his artistic integrity with refusal and amour-propre (self-love). Until shortly before his death he lived in the „Hotel du Grand Miroir“ in Brussels. There he wrote a series of letters, wich took revenge on the nation and ist populous. He expressed disapointment that his work and he himself had been ignored. Baudelaire, in a otel of this name, with nothing but contempt for the public eye, ridi-culed democracy and told his compatriots they were born to be whipped. He made the vicios accusation, that he had been ex-cluded from society. In fact, through his melancholic
narcissism, the poet had continuously excluded himself. (4).
Seen in this light, Vieg’s portraits appear to be more than the banishment of the bygone ghosts of an artimistic myth. They embody a resistance to the elitist heroism of artists, their hackeyed genius-cults, stale stance of originality and middleclass „bogeyism“. (5). He refuses his masters any kind of personal mimic or expression, no smile, not even worry-lines. And he refuses to provide the viewer of a tempting eye contact with them. The portraits are not character studies and do not display symbols of power. A royal farewell. The teachers are nt mre than the contours of shadows, Pappenheimer.
(I know you inside out). Pure colour allows Dieter Vieg to prevail.

Carl Friedrich Schröer

 

(1) Michel Foucault: „Was ist der Autor?“, In Schriften zur Literatur. Ffm 1988, P.10
(2) Vgl. das grundlegende Werk von Ernst Kris und Otto Kurz, „Die Legende vom Künstler“ Wien 1934
(3) Pappenheimer, der; - s – Angehöriger des Reiterregiments des dt.
(4) Reitergenerals Graf zu Pappenheim. Ugs. Für ich kenne diese Leute; ich weiß Bescheid, z. n.: Deutsches Wörterbuch, Duden. Mannheim, Wien 1992
(5) Vgl. Wolfgang Ruppert, „Der Moderne Künstler. Zur Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte der kreativen Individualität in der kulturellen Moderne im 19. Und 20. Jahrhundert“, Ffm. 1998