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On your homepage you write: “At the beginning the picture is empty, at the end it is empty. In between I painted. ” Where does your fascination for “the void” come from?

Sometimes that was a conscious decision during my painting studies. I grew up in the country and was very connected to nature. When I then studied in Vienna, I felt the need not to add something to the general flood of information and images in the form of painting. So I went the way inwards, of contemplation and silence. It was a constant search for what was left when there were no thoughts, concepts, ideas, ideas … etc. there are more. I have the following formulation: “What I allow myself to encounter a viewer with the power of a painting is the little that remains when everything is left out that leads somewhere.” Similar to a meditation I sat in front of the blank canvas until I saw the emptiness of the canvas.

margit hartnagel

What does emptiness mean to you? Is it death or a new beginning and the beginning of life?

Only when something is empty can it be refilled. In the emptiness there is the potential from which everything, the fullness, becomes possible. Facing the observer with a precise blurring of an empty center of the picture gives him the opportunity to “focus” himself and thus fill the center with himself.

“At some point the void was filled with an abundance of possibilities again”

For ten years you have been busy creating “empty pictures”. How did the development towards your current pictures go?

My painterly development began with the decision to limit myself to the colors black, white and gray and to use dots as a form. This resulted in shimmering point images as a primal chaos of tiny particles. More and more spatiality developed through overlays until the points were covered by horizontal stripes, which divided the picture more and more into a top and bottom. This space in between developed increasingly dense but also lighter. At some point this cleared space of potentiality, the emptiness, had to be filled again with an abundance of possibilities. For me that meant, after years of withdrawal and avoidance of gestures, to allow everything again. The courage to be fully alive. This step was extremely difficult for me. On the one hand I was looking for this moment for so long and then there were seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Nelson Mandela said in his inaugural address:“Everyone is destined to shine! Our deepest fear is not that we are insufficient, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond what is measurable ” . Initially, colored dots emerged hesitantly in the empty center of the picture, increasingly the whole picture was superimposed until they became independent and pulsed. This is my current process right now.

 

margit hartnagel

You write: “I understand each of my pictures as an attempt towards the“ ultimate picture ””. Could you explain what an ultimate image is for you?

I suspect a picture behind all pictures, the origin, original and from which everything, all pictures arise. An image that creates all images in the viewer. Perhaps such a picture cannot be painted at all, but it is about the approach and the “correct” distance.

Your picture series often consist of many similar pictures. Do you sell your pictures individually or only in certain arrangements or installations?

My pictures are approximations to a main theme. This creates variations that are often summarized in a series or belong to a cycle. The repetitions condense, circle the topic until it changes. Each picture should be able to stand for itself, but the dialogue with the other pictures enriches the individual. I sell both single pictures and series.

 

margit hartnagel

Where do you see yourself and your art in the future?

In painting, it gives me great pleasure to allow myself to do everything again after a long abstinence and asceticism. I like to be surprised where this process is leading me.
In the past few years I’ve been invited to a number of art in architecture projects. The challenge of dealing with real spaces, places and functions made my art a direct part of life. In the future I would like to shift my focus even more, besides painting.
My last spatial art project for the new institute building of the school for social professions in Ravensburg will be presented in the next issue of Entree 

 

margit hartnagel

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