I began in 1976, with small abstract paintings that allowed me to do what I had never let myself do: put something down at random. And then, of course, I realized that it never can be random. It was all a way of opening a door for me. If I don't know what's coming - that is, if I have no hard-and-fast image, as I have with a photographic original - then arbitrary choice and chance play an important part.
I wanted to make it as anonymous as a photo. But it was perhaps also the wish for perfection, the unapproachable, which then means loss of immediacy. Something is missing then, though; that is why I gave that up.
But my motivation was more a matter of wanting to create order - to keep track of things. All those boxes full of photographs and sketches weigh you down, because they have something unfinished, incomplete, about them. So it's better to present the usable material in an orderly fashion and throw the other stuff away. That's how the Atlas came to be, and I exhibited it a few times.
This superficial blurring has something to do with the incapacity I have just mentioned. I can make no statement about reality clearer than my own relationship to reality; and this has a great deal to do with imprecision, uncertainty, transience, incompleteness, or whatever. But this doesn't explain the pictures. At best it explains what led to their being painted.
You can compare it to dreams: you have a very specific and individual pictorial language that you either accept or that you can translate rashly and wrongly. Of course, you can ignore dreams, but that would be a shame, because they're useful.
The desire to please is maligned, unfairly. There are many sides to it. First of all, pictures have to arouse interest before people will even look at them, and then they have to show something that holds that interst - and naturally they have to be presentable, just as a song has to be sung well, otherwise people run away. One mustn't underrate this quality, and I have always been delighted when my pieces have also appealed to the museum guards, the laymen.
It was not possible for us to produce the same optimism and the same kind of humour or irony. Actually, it was not irony. Lichtenstein is not ironic but he does have a special kind of humour. That's how I could describe it: humour and optimism. For Polke and me, everything was more fragmented. But how it was broken up is hard to describe.
I originally came from Dresden, where Socialist Realism prevailed. Konrad Lueg and I came up with it, for the most part ironically, since I now live in capitalism. It was certainly 'realism', but in another form - the capitalist form, as it were. It wasn't meant that seriously. It was more a slogan for that particular Happening at a furniture store.