Gothenburg, June 1, 2017
Yesterday, we talked about a lot of things. We talked about silent knowledge, 18th Century silhouettes, the complicated relationship many painters have with their medium (because of Barnett Newman and the others, authenticity, appropriation, the painting as an investment, and so on), and the old Superman movie where the evil villains are being trapped in a two-dimensional space. What a horror!
Most of all we talked about beginnings.
You told me how you, during a period, removed as much as possible from your paintings. You wanted to find your own point of departure, your own way of painting. In these reductionist works, there is nothing but backgrounds and undefinable, but very distinct, blue shapes in various sizes in the upper left corners. They are not mere brush strokes, but not complete figures either.
When you showed me these works, I said that it looked a bit as if someone just had begun to paint a wall. Someone, who is not a craftsman, not a professional, you added. We laughed.
Ok, this was just a joke, but I think there is at least some truth in it. The opposite of the professional is the amateur, or the beginner; someone who is doing something with curiosity, for the joy of doing it. In that sense, I think you are a beginner. A professional beginner, I must add, since you obviously know how to make the joy of beginning remain on your canvases.
By the way, I can't stop smiling, when I look at your new works.
All the best,
P.S. To be a beginner for a short while is easy, but to continue to be a beginner must be one of the most difficult things there is.
Letter from Jens Soneryd to Ralf Dereich. 1 June–5 June, 2017. Åplus, Berlin.