Looking closely, patiently at Austrian painter Christoph Palaschke’s abstract paintings evokes a multitude of conflicting emotions.
Many of his paintings, such as “Ecstasy and Evolution, “Queen of the Night, “Oasis 2, and “Red Roof witness the spontaneous interaction of the elements, colors and textures into an unusual form. The feeling engendered is a mystical representation of reality and human sentiment. They also evoke an alternative world in a higher universe.
A chaotic, sensational joy is ingrained in “Carnival while fear and an elegiac vision of destruction brim subtly from “Explosion. An enchanting yet treacherous uncertainty is unleashed by “Queen of the Night. An impression of serenity swiftly changes into loss in “Oasis 2 while “Red Roof 4 appears like a secluded, darker version of Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World, which is equally beautiful and poignant.
Sounds, spiritual and worldly encounters, poetic rhythms and a stack of actions that differ in their intensity and resonance are all part of the Palaschke experience.
The depth and imagination of Palaschke’s work is astonishing for a man who only started taking painting seriously in 1999 and still maintains his career as a police officer. His latest paintings exhibited with Egyptian painter Adel Tharwat in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, are part of his fourth exhibition in Egypt.
The 33-year-old artist sat down with Daily News Egypt to discuss his young career, his artistic methods and the influence of Egypt on his work.
Daily News Egypt: How did you start your career as a painter?
Christoph Palaschke: I was always interested in painting when I was young. But I didn’t take painting seriously until 1999/2000 [with study expeditions in Italy, Greece and Australia]. Broad lines, bright colors and dynamism are some of the characters I’ve always used in my paintings.
The primary development in my work is that it became finer and more sophisticated, which was a result of the improvement of my techniques. I also began to paint a lot of portraits.
My job as a police officer in a private Austrian unit enables me to circumvent any kind of pressure to sell my work, and that was a big relief. I always felt that artists who are urged to sell pictures eventually produce an outcome that isn’t that good.
Does the rigid, serious nature of your job as a police officer conflict with your artistic side?
Not at all. The two are parts of the same person. I can’t be a painter without being a police officer and vice versa. Art is more important for me of course and if I’m obliged to define myself based on my career, I’d definitely define myself as a painter.
My job as a police officer allows me to serve my society. Besides, the stress that comes with it is driven out through my paintings, and perhaps that’s why they’re so dynamic.
Why did you choose to express yourself in abstract paintings in particular?
In my job, I deal extensively with concrete and tangible matters. I wanted something to act as a counterweight and I found that in abstract painting. Even when I started to bring in some concrete elements to my paintings in 2002 via the portraits, I eventually ended up injecting as many abstract components as possible later on.
I believe that the regular type of painting can be learned. Abstract painting, on the other hand, is based on pure creativity.
Some of your paintings veer between hidden rage and poetic imagery.
I don’t think I see them that way. My painting process is not controlled by certain preconceptions, moods or intentions held from before. I feel like I’m in a state of trance when I paint. I just keep on painting until it accumulates to something at the end. I never know prior to painting a specific canvas what the end-result will look like.
How was the reception to your work in Austria, Egypt and elsewhere?
In Austria and Western Europe in general, it’s hard for your work to be met with an enthusiastic reception. Those who come to exhibitions or other cultural events are in it to see and be seen. It’s difficult to find anyone in the opening of those kinds of events who is truly passionate about art. It’s all about networking and having a glass of wine.
What I like about Egypt is that the people seem to be genuinely interested in the pictures. I like how they relentlessly discuss the paintings and ask questions. There’s much more enthusiasm here than in Austria.
Also, in Europe, people expect you to explain the entire background story of every painting, and I’m honestly not fond of that. What I like in Egypt is how people let themselves feel the pictures, think about them and then discuss them. In Europe, you act as if you’re obliged to serve these elite.
Did Egypt and the rest of the countries you’ve visited have any kind of influence on your work?
I think they did, yet it’s too early to say how. My visit to Egypt, though, directed me to paint something completely different from what I have before. It’s still abstract, but the colors are much brighter.
What are your expectations for both of your careers?
I don’t think I’ll be a police officer forever. Normal jobs only last for a period that’s bound to end. My paintings are the work that will continue to exist for eternity.
I’d probably want to have a regular side-job even if I make enough to lead a prosperous living through my paintings. Not necessarily as a police officer, but any occupation that comes with a suitable amount of action.
Check the agenda on page 10 for more details about Palaschke’s exhibition.