Otto Piene - Untitled
Gouache and traces of fire on cardboard. 67.5 x 96 cm. Framed under glass. Signed and dated 'OPiene' (joined) '72'. - The mat opening slightly faded throughout.
Once the configuration on the surface promises what he wants, Piene sets fire to the pigment. There is an intense flame as it burns quickly, but as he has two options for control: he can tilt and turn the work, making the burning paint run, combining fire and liquidity; and he can extinguish the fire, the decisive act. The technique combines predictable elements (the knowledge gained from earlier fire painting) and surprises (the rapid combustion can produce effects outside the artist's anticipation). The color with which the picture started is not lost but appears residually in the form of oxides: the charred surface is rich in red-black, blue-black, orange-black. The color, bound to the canvas by the unifying effect of heat, is described by Piene as “harmonious” and “anonymous.” He wants the sense of the sweep of an enveloping process, fusing the parts of the image. The anonymity of which he speaks comes from consigning the personally-shaped object to a process that works by physical laws beyond the artist's full command. Though the fire can be directed and ended by the artist, we recognize the traces of combustion no less than that of human touch in the end-state. The work can be said to incorporate neutral processes. (Lawrence Holloway, Otto Piene, in: Ante Glibota (Hg), Otto Piene, exhib.cat. Galerie Diogenes, Berlin 1960, Paris 2011, p.70).
directly from the artist; Private collection, Rhineland