Friday, September 2


Die Windsbraut by Oskar Kokoschka
Die Windsbraut by Oskar Kokoschka

What used to shock people in my portraits was that I tried to intuit from the face, from its play of expressions, and from gestures, the truth about a particular person, and to recreate in my own pictorial language the distillation of a living being that would survive in memory. I usually start my paintings without having done any preliminary drawing: and I find that neither routine nor technique is of any help. I depend very much on being able to capture a mental impression, the impression that remains behind when the image itself has passed. In a face I look for the flash of the eye, the tiny shift of expression which betrays an inner movement. In a landscape I seek for the trickle of water that suddenly breaks the silence, or a grazing animal that makes me conscious of the distance or height of a range of mountains, or a lonely wayfarer whose shadow lengthens as evening falls. It would be too high-flown to call these things decisive experiences: they are simply what make me a seeing observer of nature... A bare canvas has always filled me with a horror vacui until, initially in a half-indecipherable form, I am able to bring out from its prepared surface the vision of my inner eye.

-- Oskar Kokoschka My Life
Translated by David Britt