The Pleasures
In Ambiguity

by Philipp Kremer


A Personal Diary,
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APRIL.28 — MAY.05 / 2022
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The Aromatic Transcript of "The Pleasure in Ambiguity" is in progress and to be released in 2024.

FRIDAY, APRIL, 22. I want to start by sharing a feeling that is a driving force behind my work, that of ambiguity. It‘s a feeling that is always with me, maybe it has to do with something of my past, where I grew up in a religious commune in the north of Germany, while visiting „normal“ schools. Not being able to identify with either of these two very different worlds, I started to accept the in between as a possible place, and later as a possible approach maybe to life or at least to my work. And painting became the space for me that I defined, that I negotiated, instead of being put in intense social structures that oppose each other, and therefore make it impossible for me become part of. This ambiguous state of mind is always „open“, experiencing the world, people I pass by on the way to the studio affect me, disgust me, touch me, turn me on, etc. Sometimes going for a walk can be an enthusiastic experience, just looking at bushes and lamp posts in a park for long enough. The ambiguous feeling always „takes in“ everything, while doubting everything at the same time.

THURSDAY, APRIL 28. To bring a feeling into a painting that I do not control, that does not represent my mood, or my sensitivity, but something from the outside, something I am forced to deal with, like it or not, I bring random colours into the work. Those are picked from a bucket with colour cards.

FRIDAY, APRIL 29. 10 a.m. I want to speak about the excitement I feel when working on a painting. It‘s this open space, and the possibility to bring whatever I want into it. To allow my phantasy to dig up something, my hand to shape something, my eyes to see something, my brain to respond to something, it‘s an incredible pleasure. It‘s also a way to connect with the world, a moment of being only „now“. This feeling is what drives the work more than the outlook of making a „good“ or successful work. If this feeling is not there, it‘s the indication that there is something wrong, that I either work on the wrong subject, or under too much pressure. Or it could be just that there are other things that I forgot to take care of, a doctor‘s appointment, taxes, those types of things. Sometimes, taking a break is necessary to bring this feeling back, as a desire, a secret joy of looking forward to go to painting again. It needs to be cared for, this feeling, and protected.

FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 4 p.m. Disappointment is an unavoidable part of being a perfectionist. The result of a finished painting almost never matches the vision I had of it during the process. Even though I am not able to judge a work immediately after finishing it, There‘s usually some sense of failure. In my early 20s this could cause me to smash chairs, but today I try to work with it, for example by including random elements in the work that almost force it to fail, and accepting this, try to focus rather on what contents I can lay into it, instead of even thinking about „making it work“. And some of my best works are paintings that felt like failures at first.

FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 10 p.m. In fact, I feel like whatever imagination of a „good“ work I can have is probably based on the things I have seen or considered „good“ in the past. But since I‘m trying to speak about something new, at least new to me, this „guide“ might not even be necessary. Still, the feeling remains.

SUNDAY, MAY 1, 12 p.m. Horniness. Thinking about Sex

MONDAY, MAY 2. Today that my partner has recovered from Covid, and is able to leave the quarantine of her room for the first time, I‘m thinking about Love. When I titled an exhibition „Love“ in 2011 I was thinking that love does not really exist, that it‘s a cliché, and could be described with different words. But around the same time I fell in love with somebody, and I realized what it is for me: the word is a container, and when you feel something that has no other place, then I’d call it love. And I think that feeling is different with another person, and also changes over time. Here is a work from that show „Love“:

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 7 p.m. The feelings after finishing a work, or a group of works are interesting, in a way that‘s a whole new process. I spoke about the disappointment, but there‘s also the rediscovery of the work. When I look back at them a few days or weeks later, there‘s the point with some works where I think, wow this is nice to look at, and then, this is actually really good! There are works I made that I am very proud of, even 10,20 years later. This is a source of strength and confidence.

THURSDAY, MAY 5, 1 p.m. I‘m sitting in a crowded train at this moment, thinking about in what way being silly has an influence on my work. Whenever I‘m happy I behave silly. It‘s not a conscious decision of course, but this silliness is a very productive space. Sometimes brilliant ideas come out of it, just before the most lame joke… the freedom to fail is inscribed into this silliness. It‘s also a space that allows responding to my environment intuitively, and a space for provocation. I don‘t use it directly for my work. This giddiness is almost a sacred condition, I am afraid it would become forced, implementing it directly… but still, if an idea makes you smile, it‘s probably worth following. And maybe there will be a way for me to be more silly with my work one day. There is of course a tradition of silly painting. The one I love the most is Magritte‘s „periode vache“, they are truly silly paintings, and he never „developed“ them further, which leaves it fragmented and spontaneous, which are qualities of being silly.

05 / 05 / 22 – Power

THURSDAY, MAY 5, 5 p.m. My favorite type of power relation is that of meeting others on „eye level“. But, realistically, with almost anybody I meet there is some kind of complex power relation, sometimes obviously unequal. I think we tend to notice it more when we perceive ourselves as the weak one. Having a power advantage is not really a feeling, it‘s almost something you forget, take for granted. An „infallible“ feeling. I was thinking about this in my series „Soft People“, where I tried to paint violent situations without actually painting them. I was trying to make a joyful painting, that I direct towards a violent scene, and, as soon as this scene appears, I stopped working on it. Feeling joyful and hurtful at the same time was the goal of those paintings- I‘m not sure to which degree audiences read them in that way, but I definitely experienced the two working on them, and it was quite hard- I needed to take a break after a few months. In 15 minutes I am going to an exhibition opening, where a selection of studies of body postures I made in the context of this process are shown.

SUNDAY, MAY 5, 3 p.m. When I was a child I sometimes tried, but never succeeded in finding a four leaf clover. But since I have been painting for many years, I have trained my eye, and about ten years ago, I realized that I am able to spot them just by passing by a field of clovers. Just for fun, and for the feeling of being lucky, I made it a routine to pay attention to clovers when I go for a walk. I noticed also, that where you find one, there’s a high chance to find more in a circle of one or two meters. Just today I found more than twenty.


Philipp Kremer

Philipp Kremer