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"My painting embraces the comprehensible, as well as the incomprehensible"

Since 1978 I have been calling my art "Open Painting." This is a concept that rejects closed systems and perceives a chance for individual and cultural development in exchange with the other, with that which is different and foreign. In order to better characterise this intercultural position, I use the terms "permeability" and "non-completion." My concepts, designs and realisations are flexible and variable; they demonstrate a thinking-in-process. The creative process of the picture can be traced back as well and is therefore transparent. Furthermore, the process of formation is not persued to its end, but remains open for future possibilities. Thus, interpretations are not cut and dried, but rather ambiguous. Many times, however, the picture remains insoluble, enigmatic.

One will not find the "recognizable" in my paintings. The uniqueness of abstract art is that it does not repeat the visual world, but stays in a very specially charged relationship with it. Abstract art can thrust forward into regions, which are locked up with other forms of art, especially with mimetic art. My pictures call on the beholder to engage himself in them unbiasedly and for the time being to restrain the compulsion to linguistically classify what he sees. Avoiding this way that the sphere of the visual will be superimposed by language and thus can be perceived in and for itself.

To manifest "Eros and Spirit," sensuality and spirituality, is an important task in my painting. To give form to spirituality, as well as place and body, is necessary, and the more timely, as reality is increasingly being dominated by digitalisation. Therefore, the problem of bodyliness - as memory of evolution - should be paid more attention to and I would like to see it evaluated in a new manner. So I emphasize the importance of the "physical presence" of the image for the "visual cognition" on which our consciousness of reality depends; even more, on which it is formed.

Alfried Hagedorn


After I discontinued developing light-kinetic structures, space-objects and mobiles, I devoted myself again to painting. I decided to focus on light, color and energy. Initially I used the air brush technique, but after discovering the manifold forms of Japanese brushes I then developed my transparent technique with acrylic paints. This technique predominantly refrains from using body-white and acts transparently because it is applied in layers. To sound spans and to mediate extremes through "transitions" of color and form became a dominant subject, which later on has been linked to the Tibetan idea of the "bardo," which means transition.

This concept has been elaborated in many paintings between the poles black and white as a rich interweaving of relationships and nuances. The initially still simple structures of the painting became richer and richer in relationships and more complex and finally gained a crystalline and fractual character coupled with a cloudy-like lightness. Positive and negative areas are harmonized so that the picture appears to be a labile equilibrium. The remaining forms of the base white play an important part in most pictures, as base as such or as the totality of colors, equal to light. It is background and constant at the same time and in front of which the picture process reels off and to which it is all related.

Alfried Hagedorn

Manifestations of Light

Writing about my painting means approaching the sources from which it comes. My painting is embedded in a larger context and cannot be isolated. He who would recognize the significance of the visual for himself and the world around him would have to allow the language inside him to become silent and to seek contemplation.

When my eyes question the world, when I open myself to the effects of beings and objects and their environments, something happens to me, that I am seized by their energy and I begin to understand. To understand, why one thing is the way it is and why another is different. But I also realize how easy it is to confuse or destroy it all Painting is an open path, a process of realization the result of which cannot be foreseen. From a multitude of sketches a few that meet my criteria are selected and given their proper dimensions. A orientação holística do meu pensamento não permite excluir o inexplicável ou o contraditório. Aquilo para o qual não temos antenas hoje pode se tornar a base do novo amanhã.

The visible world is the foundation of perception. It is one of my goals to make visible in painting the energies that give shape to the visible. At the same time I try to create a balance between complementary forces, such as positive and negative.

In my painting there or no established, recognizable forms. I want to show forms come into existence. Recognizable forms would arrest the viewer's attention and cloud his vision for what I want to show. I would like to make paintings charged like batteries that release their energies slowly in time, batteries that are never depleted but recharge themselves again and again. I watch those energies being transformed as they coalesce into all kinds of states in the various layers of a painting.
For some years now I have used the word "permeability", a term that combines both matter and light, to charcterize my paintings.

Now that man can significantly change the appearance of the world using technology, the development of aesthetic awareness is of primary importance. Images exert a greater influence on the actions of man than many are prepared to admit. People prefer to reduce art to its aesthetic and decorative aspects as they are unwilling to acknowledge its significance as a carrier of messages. I believe that the term "image" is a comprehensive, basic word, that includes images formed by the mind as well as those formed by imagination. Images have the power to destroy or to create. If we can dissolve the images of doom and despair within us, then we are open for better images. "If you meet someone who doesn't smile, say the Thai, " then give him your smile".

In Thailand I often saw little mirrors embedded in surfaces that fire off reflections like arrows. I saw roofs tapering off into the sky as if they wanted to reconcile heaven and earth. I saw colors emanating warmth and dignity. I saw people who can be simple like children and quiet . And everywhere the sun's warm light reflects off of golden surfaces.

Alfried Hagedorn, Nov. 30th 1987

Catalogue "National Gallery of Thailand" Jan. 1988
Exhibition with Pratuang Emcharoen, Sadamasa Motonaga and Gerd Knäpper

The "Inner Space"

The predominant problem of art from the Renaissance to the 19th century was the correct representation of the space and its bodies. It was not until modern art that its interest was directed away from perspective to other forms of representation. This change roughly coincides with the complete conquest of the space of our planet of our earth and an ever better knowledge of other cultures, but also with the revolutionary discoveries of physics.

The focus of interest swings from outer space to inner space. Curiosity gets under the skin - in the truest sense of the word - and further into the depths of the unknown of every kind. The walls of the world, like everything material, become transparent and lose their consistency. Their substance suddenly appears as something provisional. Matter has become dormant energy and the band of electromagnetic waves is being slowly conquered by technology. The security of old times gives way to a spiritual state for which relativity has become the new content.

Thus the old certainties of art are caught in the crossfire of critical research. The rapid change of modern styles resembles an uncertain exchange of positions and is an expression of the search for adequate adequate forms of representation for the new world view. Impressionism projected the retinal image onto the canvas in the belief that it is the real image. Cubism facets the objects to realize the simultaneity of their aspects. Expressionism makes the color interchangeable in order to chain it to the affects. The abstract art finally frees form and color completely from the object, in order to put both in to the service of the essential, the principle and the spiritual.

Even seeing has long since lost its innocence, for seeing can no longer be separated from knowledge and experience. Between us and the world is the apparatus of perception, which helps to shape form and content of what we recognize. The creation of art itself takes on a hypothetical character, just like the thought processes of scientists. The world is interpreted by us before we have seen it as a whole. We form an idea of it in the knowledge that it will be revised.

In all areas today, things are done that can be done. The question, however, of what these things will effect and in how far they harm life and hinder spiritual development, is seldom asked.

One of my hypotheses says: Who can give space to himself, can also give space to others. Culture and freedom thus become a question of allowing and opening. Images that embody this theme and its energies can be like buoys that lead around shoals. The "inner space" will be a source of future developments. However, the concept of "inner space" cannot be limited to this ethical force alone, but can be projected into many dimensions.

My painting is committed to the modern principle of the open and permeable. The quality of a painting is that its energies reveal themselves to the viewer in ever new ways, and that contemplation remains in constant motion. The openness and permeability of the picture symbolizes on the one hand the cosmic-earthly energies that permeate everything, and stands on the other hand for a spiritual attitude which will make a progressive knowledge and design of the life on this earth possible.

Alfried Hagedorn, 1994

Gallery Cogito, Setubal/ Lisbon