The pain of painting


Painting is painful. Every time I nearly finish a painting I feel frustrated, unhappy and unsatisfied.

And then comes the shame. And then hate. I hate the painting. I am embarrassed. I want to destroy the painting and I feel satisfaction in over painting it with black paint. Or red.


My first teacher in art school considered this as a necessary emotion without the artist will not evolve. If an artist ever feels satisfied and content with his work, there won't be any further development and the artist will be stuck. I sympathize with all painters who destroy their own work in despair. Like Chaim Soutine, who often times was caught slashing his own paintings.


The other side of colour and pain is colour being an expression of pain, which can be found in many paintings. Not only Chaim Soutine, but also Frida Kahlo, or Van Gogh. Not only physical pain, but also emotional pain finds expression in a painting. Maybe pain makes even better painters.

Of course pain can find its way through all the arts, music, poetry and dance, but a painting seems to freeze the pain for eternity being a static picture which distinguishes painting from other arts. Performing art as well as a piece of poetry consumes time, has a beginning and an end, while a painting is not bound to time. The pain is materialized forever.


Or as the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal in his “Briefe des Zurueckgekehrten” (letters of the returnee) describes: „Farbe. Farbe. Mir ist das Wort zu armselig , warum sollten nicht die Farben Brüder der Schmerzen sein, da diese wie jene uns ins Ewige ziehen? (Colour, Colour, this word seems too poor. Why shouldn't colours be brothers of pain, do both draw us into eternity).