Wols said to Ione Robinson that van Gogh is the end of paining, in the paintings of van Gogh everything explodes; and I said elsewhere (in the Books of Strange and Unproductive Thinking) that – as it occurs to me – while in the paintings of Vincent everything explodes into an outer space, in the paintings of Wols everything seemingly explodes into an inner space; I may have failed to thorougly describe it: They are maybe the projections of explosions/happenings that materialise in a higher dimensional spacetime into man´s limited dimensional prison, or they, so to say, capture the inner intensity of explosions, make the inner intensity of explosions visible, show these explosions/happenings in a kind of phase space. Wols is a reincarnation of Vincent some decades later and the projection of Vincent into an enlarged, respectively more complex inner phase space (or so). I may have failed to thoroughly describe it.
(Like Vincent) Wols was exceptionally intelligent, an extremely divergent thinker, very handy with making associations; his life was chaotic, impulsive and he lived intuitively, he repelled organisation and institution and regulation and unfortunately progressed into a heavy drinker which may have contributed to his untimely death at age 38 (due to a meat poisoning). He was an outsider from early on and discribed his adolescence as „horrific“ („After a rather unfortunate youth, at odds with myself, nowhere homogenous, I faced at the same time all kinds of problems. I have never been particularly well up to date about what happened with me and in my surroundings despite all efforts of work and contemplation.“)
Sartre, who knew Wols, supported him financially and tried to help him, called Wols a „hybrid between a human and a Martian“ – and it is true that fellows like Wols are both most at the center of the human experience as well as they are aliens who try to communicate with the Earthlings, with mixed responses, and to not very much avail – Sartre tried to understand Wols as an incarnation of existentialist nausée who would fit into his philosophy, Wols however was always heavily reluctant to offer explanations to his work or to his approach, in his encounters with Ione Robinson he announced that he does not know what he is doing, he may be a microbe („I am a victim, by natural history. A microbe, probably observed through a telescope by inhabitants of an atom, or by the secret service of the milky way“, he said in one of his aphorisms), he said to her that it is of no use trying to explain his paintings to her (Ione Robinson was a figurative painter) since she would not understand it anyway („Often I observe with my eyes closed, what I observe. Everything is there, it is beautiful, it exhausts“; „Those who dream when they are awake have knowledge of a thousand things, which slip the attention of those who dream only when they are asleep“; „Observerving means closing the eyes“, as he noted in his aphorisms), most famously, while having a walk with Ione, he immediately drew his attention to a crack in the pavement and announced that this crack would resemble his art: the crack would live and grow, it is an expression of the forces of nature – which lead to the interpretation that Wols is a kind of microbe which recognises the invisible, or other universes than ordinary (and even extraordinary) man does.
Because of being a mismatcher par excellence, Wols never felt at home in the art scene. His endeavour reached into the creation of a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk, the Circus Wols, with not only his paintings but also his aphorisms and scrapbooks being an integral part of it (and unfortunately the ultimate realisation of Circus Wols was made impossible by his early death). In his aphorisms and scrapbooks a vision and understanding of everything being connected and every thing being a window through which one can see eternity (for those who CAN see) is prominent. He liked Kafka, Baudelaire, Lautréamont, Poe, Rimbaud, van Gogh and others he called „Irrlichter“ (ghost lights) … me, I also had this vision of these guys (especially when thinking of Kafka) being Irrlichter, a light that illuminates the human condition reluctantly, ponderingly, flickering (I have also called them Negative Buddhas) … because the only true, and upright, light in the circus humanum (and therefore always threatened with extinction) are they, the Ultracomplex. – At his time and after his death Wols had influence on art informel and tachism but his popularity became soon overshadowed by pop art and the like. It is true that Wols´ art is not an extroverted art. It is true that it is singular. And it is true that it comes from the shadow realms of human thought, it even comes from the shadow realms of the Continuum (where the geniuses and their eternal ideas/creations dwell), as an mixture of explosion and implosion, explosions that happen in the exurbia regions and then maybe get sucked into, implode into the unknown, the uninhabitable … „ahhh, the exurbia regions of human thought, , where the dances of signifiers and the signified become most dislocated and most elementary, hyper-authentic, hyper-innocent, ready to return to base again … after that the seam of infinity, which we love“, as I put it elsewhere; Wols may have put it differently, in another language, in other „symbols“, then he disappears…
It got noted by Dominique de Menil that Wols was „a rebel who did not even care about rebellion“ (and „Painting or not painting, it is equal to Wols. But it is strange how he wanders about like Poe´s „Man of the Crowd“, and from time to time may leech off a glass of booze, whereas the Guilty comfortably relish literature and their beefsteak“, was one of his aphorisms), and it got noted that Wols´ paintings are beyond any truly comprehensive intellectual interpretation. I happened to browse to the tables of painting in that book and saw, on a double page, Vert cache rougé (1947) and Ohne Titel (1946/47). Especially in Ohne Titel I saw a kind of face which presents itself in a grotesque and confusing way to the intellectuals, or to humanity in general, to those who want to decipher it, and also to those who would like to make an intellectual toy out of Wols, but will never succeed.
And I had to really laugh about this <3
It made my day.
By second observation/upon reflection, the face presented seems to be neither particularly happy or unhappy, as well as it is neither particularly loosened and unchained from the space it emerges from nor particularly spilled by it and submerged. Wols was considered by some as an unhappy artist, an artist who paints, displays and represents „damaged life“. Wols, of course, was aware of this, the misera conditio, but refuted interpretations of him as an artist who mourns about the horrors of existence. „I am a lover of life“ (depite all that, and despite his own miserable condition), he confirmed to Ione Robinson. It was noted that in his encounters with Ione Robinson Wols remained evasive, overly associative and metaphoric, and enigmatic. Grohmann noted that Wols constitutes upon multiple and eternal contradictions (and through this, may achieve completeness). I have called them elsewhere the Ultracomplex People, and we are actually not evasive, metaphoric or enigmatic at all, our minds just appear somehow bizarre to others – while in reality we are overly sane. In our inner life, due to absence of ego, there are no true inner anchors, just, more or less, fluidity. What others see as contradictions, battles or explosions within us – well, maybe on the vast wide sea: there are two ships colliding, maybe there is even a sea battle… but there is, first and foremost, the vast wide ocean, with all sorts of life and things happening in no way ever affected by them, being of a different logic or embedded into another subsystem, like the fishes and the deep sea fishes, and the good morays… there is also land and shit, and sky, and open space… that is the arena! The inner life of the ultracomplex person is its own phase space. So to say. The ultracomplex person may only appear to be complex, because the UP is the all, the „living microcosm“, there is perfect fluidity; the complexity may come into being by the circumstance of the UP being thrown into an intractable, internally segmented world, which therefore makes the efforts to communicate and the efforts to establish communion of the UP with his surroundings apparently convulsive and seem like apparently enigmatic explosions. Wols was one of us, of the Ultracomplex.