A student researching into my work has actually traced the newspapers and magazines where I found theses images and has found out that many of them illustrate a collection of gruesome stories, murders and suicides which contrast with the images used. There is a contrast between the message carried by the text and that suppressed by the illustration.
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.
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.
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.
But I would like to reach the point where I could cut up an illustrated magazine at random and see to it that the parts would each become a painting. I cannot properly explain it right now. Already now I am searching for the most boring and irrelevant photo material that I can find. And I would like to get to the point soon where this determined irrelevance could be retained, in favor of something that would be covered up otherwise by artifice.
It can be a work by Mondrian, a piece of music by Schönberg or Mozart, a painting by Leonardo, Barnett Newman or also Jackson Pollock. That's beautiful to me. But also nature. A person can be beautiful as well. And beauty is also defined as 'untouched'. Indeed, that's an ideal: that we humans are untouched and therefore beautiful.
I pursue no objectives, no systems, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty.
The political topicality of my October paintings means almost nothing to me, but in many reviews it is the first or only thing that arouses interest, and the response to the pictures varies according to current political circumstance. I find this rather a distraction.
Perhaps the choice is a negative one, in that I was trying to avoid everything that touched on well-known issues - or any issues at all, whether painterly, social or aesthetic. I tried to find nothing too explicit, hence all the banal subjects; and then, again, I tried to avoid letting the banal turn into my issue and my trademark. So it's all evasive action, in a way.
I believe I am looking for rightness. My work has so much to do with reality that I wanted to have a corresponding rightness. That excludes painting in imitation. In nature everything is always right: the structure is right, the proportions are good, the colours fit the forms. If you imitate that in painting, it becomes false.