You know, my native language is German (information, not fishing for compliments).
Last week, I showed 291 together with a photograph of me and two paintings
hanging on the easel in very early stages, namely 291 and 292. It is quite
natural to carry on with the latter.
As far as I can see, 292 is the first painting with a crocodile. They show
up quite often later on, and I was puzzled for a long time, as the meaning
was not at hand. Years later I read a little book about esoteric astrology
which shed some light on the scene.
Esoteric astrology in the understanding of the author offered an explanation of the difficulties and development of personal life with the help of psychology and astrology alike. I am not a scholar in either field, therefore I cannot offer deep insight here.
In short, as far as I understood the theory, a personality is reflected in
the constellation of its horoscope. As is well known, the horoscope is divided
into 12 houses and 12 signs of the zodiac. Also there are the famous planets
named mostly after ancient deities.
Esoteric astrology not only tries to explain a personal life from the horoscope, but claims to show the task of an individual life. To this end, the author used three analogies. First, he explained the psychological theory of multiple personalities. Instead of assuming a one dimensional, easy to grasp personality, he rather described the person with the analogy of a stage play. All acting persons, including author and director, 12 by number, are different aspects living simultaneously in the same person. So at times you are the strong hero, then again the timid little child, and so on, and all of them at once.
The second analogy uses the image of a train. The train symbolizes your life, the starting point is your birth, and at the very start the destination is known, which is, of course, death. The train rides along, carrying with it several persons (in fact 12), which we already know from our stage play. These persons reside in different wagons, each acting independently, partly knowing the others, meeting or avoiding them.
Some passengers dream of riding south, wondering why the train rides north
(or vice versa). They try to influence the train to change direction with
all their power of thought and emotion, not realizing that the train will
never change directions this way. Instead, the task would be to enjoy the
ride, whatever the direction may be, and, most of all, get to know virtually
all persons in the various wagons of the train instead of avoiding some and
making allies with others.
The last analogy applies directly to my painting. It is the Punch and Judy Show. The author observes that Punch is but one of 12 figures in an ancient show popular to this day, employing all sorts of characters, incuding the crocodile, which is indeed most peculiar, the king and the robber.
Not only there, in the Punch and Judy Show, in every movie, novel, fairy tale, personal dream, diverse characters are used to project our personalities to live all aspects of our life, to highlight certain problems, to resolve situations we got stuck in. Art is seen this way by psychologists as a way to explore a person's life. In fact, every life is an example for that task, a psychologist's life and work is just another way to explore his own personal life.
Some psychologists make this point very clear indeed: They work for themselves
only and invite the client to help them, helping in turn the client along
the way. The authors of this book on esoteric astrology certainly leave no
doubt about their intention. In this sense, the best a painter can do is
explore his very own life through painting, helping his customers and all
personkind while concentrating solely on himself.
To get back to the painting and Punch, it is clear by now that the crocodile, funny as it is, is a very prominent figure in the show. If it were missing, most of the fun were gone. I have no idea how the crocodile came into the show in the first place, as we don't have crocs in Middle Europe and never had. But there are even more fascinating creatures living in our fantasy, dragons for example, which have not been seen in reality, the dinosaurs being extinct long before personkind came into being.
These creatures not only live in European minds, but all over the world in
every culture (I use DragonDictate, whose logo is a Chinese dragon). They
play a prominent role in western civilization, and you will have no problems
on the internet finding all sorts of science fiction clubs and fantasy pictures
featuring dragons and the like.
The crocodile in this painting clearly is a glove puppet, as is the king
and the robber. All three are extremely lively, and they are related to the
woman at center. The king and the robber both seem to load her with power,
using a touching gesture. This woman is obviously a kind of hero figure,
found in almost any of my pictures, male or female as in this case. The hero
is often naked, signaling extreme uncovering. The hair matches the halo,
making it perfectly clear that this person is most important. The woman has
no problem at all to live up to this role.
Both persons off center are related to this woman, too. They seem to speak
at her, and both show their teeth, which is quite unusual in my paintings.
All grown up persons, too, are full of energy. The painting has a serene
note, and it is funny, too. If you compare paintings 291 and 292, you will
notice similarities, although the differences will prevail.
There is a nice anecdote to this painting. Shortly after completion, I had
an exhibition in Bonn, and the painting was privately sold before the opening
(Privatbesitz). Some years later, the house of the owner was robbed, and
he had to report to his insurance company. They sent an expert for Fine Art,
and when inspecting room after room for stolen goods, opening a door, the
expert exclaimed: "Hey, there is a Stürenburg hanging on the wall!" Imagine
the amazement of the owner!
It turned out that the expert was friend to another customer of mine, who had an exhibition of my works in her home to test if she should open up a gallery (which she later did), where he saw my paintings. At this occasion, he bought a small sculpture for his son as a gift to the 18th birthday. He never saw the painting on the wall ever before, but he recognized it on the spot as mine. Two lovers of my art unexpectedly met.
All the best 'til next time. Yours truly,
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