How To Be An Artist, Part Two


Hi there!

This picture was taken two years ago.

It’s my old studio at Therapeutische Gemeinschaft, Hamburg-Jenfeld.

No, that’s not a group of artists.

It’s an institution.

Looks quite artsy and romantic, though, doesn’t it?

Imagine l’artiste! – all alone in his studio!

Left to his own devices.

Fighting the crucial battle.

Eye to eye with his enemies.




(Or whatever your substance of choice may be…)

You see the piece on my easel?

I had been messing around with it for months, painting it over again and again.

Then I took a jigsaw and cut it in two.

And you know what?

That worked out just fine.

The result was two small pieces I had to work on just a little further to get… well… acceptable results.

Sometimes, when you’re stuck, only drastic measures can save the day, not to mention your self-respect!

Well, you all know that…

Now you may ask yourselves – only acceptable results? What do you mean?

And what kind of artist are you anyway?

Aren’t you going for the big hit? Le chef-d’oeuvre? The magnum opus? Das Jahrhundertwerk?


Because there’s a risk.


And I don’t want to give in to that kind of delusion.

I feel that perfectionism is just one big, alluring trap.

A cognitive fallacy of morbid dimensions and a hazard to your mental health.

Believe me – I know what I’m talking about. I’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…

So I say:

Leave perfection to the mathematicians and their equations!

To the crystal structure of a diamond!

Or to God, if you must!

But when it comes to art, you just have to allow for a little chaos and non-linearity.

For a little imperfection and laissez-faire, if not downright sloppiness…

So… be kind to yourselves! And keep your fanaticism at bay!


Why, yes… !


Why bother… ?

St. Jerome wrote: “Perfectio vera in coelestibus” – true perfection is only to be found in heaven.

And so be it.


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Wait a minute…

Aristotle distinguishes three different concepts.That is perfect,

1. which is complete – which contains all the requisite parts; 2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better; and 3. which has attained its purpose.
Leibniz wrote: “Perfection, I call any simple quality, if it is positive and absolute, such that, if it expresses something, it does so without limits.”

To express something without limits…

Now what do you make of this?

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Peter Bies © 2008

How To Be An Artist


“Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” — Edgar Allan Poe


The kook in the picture… that’s me.

When I was a little younger.

A would-be artist with delusions of grandeur.

I was absolutely clueless.

Nice stupid haircut, though.

And the geekish glasses weren’t bad, either.

Mind the Otto Grotewohl memorial plaque!

He was the first president of East Germany.

Makes a nice pertinent background, doesn’t it?

Being clueless didn’t keep me from thinking that I had a lot of significant things to say.

And the world better listen.

And there you have it.

The essential prerequisite:

A big, inflated ego.

A deep, heartfelt conviction:

I’m significant.

You just can’t do without.

You can do without a lot of talent.

But not without your big, fat ego.

And not only that – an artist friend of mine recommended to act outright insane.

To cultivate an eccentric and/or freakish persona.

To live up to the stereotype.

My attempts in that direction looked like this.

1. Big ego.

2. Silly glasses.

That’s mandatory.

Moreover, you have to be convinced, that the world owes you a living.

Only then you may deign to dabble occasionally in painting… prose… poetry…

You lack the inspiration?

No problem.

Artists of all times have always sought the help of les paradis artificiels…

A drug habit will only boost your credibility.

As well as any kind of mental disorder.

I am not being cynical.

This is more or less based on… uh… empirical data.

This was my frame of mind back then.

I was a hopeless romantic.

And I’m afraid I still am.




Peter Bies © 2010 

Paul Thek @ the Phoenix Halls in Hamburg



Hamburg, 30.05.2008 

It was a special friday night in Hamburg. The early and uncommon heat, the upcoming weekend and all the sharp – dressed ladies and men spread through the maze of architectural excellence in the Phoenix Halls made the visitors forget where they were: Hamburg, not New York. 


The Event that attracted hundreds or even thousands of invited guests from all over Germany and even from abroad, was the opening of an exhibition of the american artist Paul Thek (1933 – 1988). According to the Thek is considered an artist with cult status. The hitherto most comprehensive retrospective of his oeuvre focused on the effect of his work on contemporary art and established Thek’s historical significance, from legendary outsider to the founder and center of an art movement. It has been possible to bring together more than 300 of Thek’s works, which are largely in private ownership and therefore only seldom publicly shown.  On 6000 square meters art and artcrowd met over rissoles, white wine and beer while nosing a hint of the international art-scene’s flair in hamburg. 


And there was more to see: The exhibition included many other renowned artists such as Works by Franz Ackermann, Kai Althoff / Robert Elfgen, Cosima von Bonin, Björn Dahlem, Sebastian Hammwöhner / Dani Jakob / Gabriel Vormstein, Rachel Harrison, Axel Heil / John Isaacs, Thomas Hirschhorn, Andreas Hofer, Mike Kelley, Jon Kessler, Suchan Kinoshita, Martin Kippenberger, Jonathan Meese, John Miller, William Pope.L, Gregor Schneider, Zeger Reyers / Lee Ranaldo, Bob & Roberta Smith and a special contribution by Peter Hujar and Edwin Klein. 

An Interview with Maria Schoof


There’s a reason we have chosen Maria Schoof’s “Schmolli” as today’s Artwork of the Day.

Maria’s art show opens today, Thursday 5 June 2008, 7:00 PM at Galerie SKAM,
1 Reeperbahn, Hamburg (6 – 8 June 2008, 4:00-8:00PM). To mark the occasion, Maria’s answered a few questions for Artdoxa…

“Let go. Don’t judge.”

Q: Maria – I’m especially interested in your pictorial inventions. How do you work on your imagery?

A: It varies. Sometimes there’s a precise picture in my mind. Sometimes I see something… certain things I can respond to, things I can translate into my language. It’s a matter of working on it.

Q: Sounds not so much premeditated but more like improvisation. Is that so?

A: It’s a process. I abstract from my design. Some things come as a surprise and might turn into a tangible image.

Q: Sometimes your visualizations exhibit a dreamy, fail-safe elegance, as in “Freiflug” (Free Flight). Sometimes they appear stubborn and restive, as in “Sphinx”. “Sphinx”, as I see it, is kept from disintegrating only by its strong, luminous center. Am I wrong?

A: Painting is always a matter of the instant, of the here and now. Tomorrow I’m in a different mood from today. This is reflected in my work. You can sense the difference.

Q: Members Heather Accurso and Jochen Hein once tagged this quality as ‘undecided’ – in its positive as well as in its critical sense. Would you agree?

A: I wouldn’t say so. Painting always means process and development. Nothing is decided beforehand.

Q: Your paintings strike me as quite emotional and spontaneous. Like “Knubbel3″. And that’s a pretty cuddly title! Where do you find your speaking titles?

A: Those titles come to me at the end of my work. I don’t like to think too much about it. It’s spontaneous.

Q: On the one hand, your work is often quite eccentric, verging on the bizarre, e.g. “Nachbarn” (Neighbors). On the other hand, your images betray a dreamlike, introspective quality, like “Luzer”. They do this in a very direct manner of addressing your audience. Very authentic, but never forced. They convey the image of a woman who’s in touch with her feelings. And thus able to translate these very closely into her private symbolism. Right?

A: I just paint. I can’t explain any further.

Q: Your work seems to circle around certain figures and topics. You seem to be so familiar with your private mythology and your cast of characters – “Blaukopf” (Blue Head), “Sleeper”

A: Sure. Some topics appear again and again. That’s the way it is when you’re an artist. When you’re grappling with the subject of your interest.

Q: What is the subject of your interest?

A: I’m interested in religion. Symbols. Cultural memory. Questions of humanity. Psychology.

Q: Your signs and characters seem to emerge from the depths of some dreamlike, symbolic, preconscious realm. There’s something floating, flowing to your images. Something natural, organic, somatic. I always feel at ease with your pictures. They’re not academic, but analytical in their own special way. Your works have a truth of their own, a mysterious, cryptic truth. Like the highly emotional, visceral thinker – the “Denker”. Well… I feel that maybe you don’t want too much interpretation… ?

A: I am amazed what my work is doing to you. But I don’t want to communicate any “truth”. It just doesn’t occur to me. I paint. Things happen they just want to happen. That’s what creative work is for me: Let go. Don’t judge.

Q: There’s this embryonic figure in “Feuerwerk” (Fireworks). I associate many of your works with motherly qualities, like sheltering and nursing, care and protection. And there’s also the feel of intimacy and vulnerability. As in “Engeloffenbarung” (Angel Epiphany). As in your impressive “Sleeper”.

A: “Sleeper” was a commissioned work for an osteopath’s medical practice. It’s about healing with your hands. Someone is being treated, “behandelt” (literally “handled” in German), being diagnosed by feeling, probing hands. I wanted to emphasize the focussing, the concentration. “Engeloffenbarung” (Angel Epiphany) is part of a cycle dealing with the Apocryphal Book of Tobit.

Q: I find your work amniotic. I don’t know any better word to describe the precious, magic quality in your paintings. The warm and tender radiance. Do you find that odd?

A: I don’t find anything odd. I’m pleased to see how my work is working on you.

Q: Do you have children? And does this have any influence on your work?

A: Yes, I have a son. And I think all of my life has an influence on my work.

Q: I’m just asking because I see so many child-like forms in your work, reflecting child-like emotions. Like the stunning “Schmolli” from “Gruppenbild” (Group Image) and his or her pals… How did those come into being?

A: I just wanted to try out something. To try and go three-dimensional.

Q: The result is just irresistible… “Schmolli” is one of my all-time favourites. And here’s a little room left to list some of your favourites. Who do you admire?

A: Richard Diebenkorn. David Hockney. Philip Taaffe. Frida Kahlo. Neo Rauch. Peter Doig. Matisse. Hieronymus Bosch. Jeff Soto. Jen-Michel Basquiat. Os Gemeos. Paul Gauguin… und und und…

Q: Frau Schoof – thank you for this interview!

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From the Editor: Enhance your chance…
… the chance of your artwork to be chosen as Artwork of the Day!

It’s just a question of uploading.

You have to upload a large hi-rez version of your work in order to increase the chance of your piece to be shown on our homepage.

Because BIG pictures is what we want to show there.

You see? BIG is what we want! BIG is beautiful!

Every so often we come across the perfect image among our new uploads.

But then – it’s barely 5×5cm in size! A puny little stamp of a picture…! Pathetic!

An image that small doesn’t have much impact, no matter how good it might be.

But we want everybody to go WOW at the sight of our Artwork of the Day!

So please…!

Think BIG!

Size does matter!

Danke! Thank you! Merci! Mycket tack! Mille grazie! Bedankt! Gracias! Spassibo!

Xièxie! Obregado! Mange tak! Arigato gozaimasu! etc…

Peace & Love,