The desert painter | Germany
Carsten Westphal – The rough and fine structures of the dried-out, torn soil, the burst coarse gravel, the sand dunes that the winds have formed, all this draws the artist Carsten Westphal to the deserts.
Westphal travels to these landscapes by jeep, on camels or on foot in order to find the perfect location for painting: In the Sahara desert, the Indian desert Thar, on Mount Sinai in the Sinai desert, in the Arabian desert of Syria or on the desert islands Boavista and Sal in the Atlantic, the dried-out salt lakes, the coarse gravels of extinct volcanoes and in dried up, dusty rivers. He mixes the materials, which he finds there, the salt, the sand, the soil and the dust pigments, with colour pigments and bonding agents and applies them onto the canvas using trowels and brushes. Thus, he creates telluric landscapes, mirror images of the elementary powers, which created these landscapes, structure paintings, which can only develop like this in the deserts. Westphal himself says, “The desert is menacing and still it is the basis for all being. It leads me back to the elementary things in life. The desert sharpens my senses and makes me aware of the limits of the human body. There is no landscape in our world, for which I feel more desire and passion, which at the same time challenges me more than the desert. It is the vastness, the enormous quiet, the absence of diversions, which create the perfect conditions for the concentration on the essential.”… It is in the desert, in particular, that Westphal experiences the well-orchestrated natural balance. There it became clear to him, “that our entire planet itself works like an organism.” The message, which Westphal wants to convey in his pictures, is thus more than merely showing us the beauty of our planet. Westphal’s paintings inspire to think about our role in the world and about the responsibility, which we as designers have in every part of the world. The maintenance of the untouched virgin landscapes is equally important as legacy for our descendants, as it is essential for the survival of the world’s organism. Westphal’s visual metaphor is the circle. It recurs in many of his works. He had the inspiration for this when he got caught in an enormous sand storm in the Sahara. He sees the circle as a symbol for the dynamic and for the indefinite movement and at the same time for nothing, the untouchable, which is the origin and the centre of the world. It symbolises the being that does not appear and at the same time it stands for the spark of Godly fires that is hidden in the matters.