Hanspeter Münch lives and works in Ettlingen, near Karlsruhe. From 1974 to 1985 he taught painting at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG), Offenbach am Main, Germany. Since 1982 he has been honorary professor at the HfG Offenbach. His work has been shaped by international working stays and appearances in London, Rome and Florence. His work is characterized by an intensive and long engagement with art and sound experience of more than 40 years.
We wanted to get a deeper insight into sources of inspiration and working methods and asked some questions:
How was your artistic career?
I was lucky at the age of 10 to be referred to painting by a friend of my family. Since then I have continuously and purposefully dealt with painterly problems. Parallel to my studies in painting, I intensively studied the history of art and very soon understood that one has to understand the chronological sequence in which one was born and the historical context in which one stands. This examination enables one to develop a problem, which then develops painting a little further forward. In relation to me, this is the problem of modulation, on which I have been working for over 50 years now.
Is there something or someone who influences you?
I was essentially influenced by the Venetians, because they developed a sfumato, an atmospheric effect of color. That always inspired me from an early age and I didn´t rest until I myself reached a point where I could formulate something like that.
If you´re interested in painting, you can´t avoid the Venetians, whose work is a high point in the history of painting. Among these great masters of the 16th century are Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, who formulated an incredible sensibility and sensuality in color. This sensuality is the volume that Cézanne later achieved with stains in the structure of his painting. That´s exactly what I´m thinking, that´s exactly what I´m developing through a kind of modulation that demonstrates this atmospheric, light-containing effect of color in layers.
How are your pictures created?
My pictures develop from inside to outside, from light to dark. Thereby the color, the cold-warm vibration, is very important. This vibration creates a color-spatial plasticity and allows me to create a transparent color vibration in my picture.
The picture process, in which I integrate my artistic knowledge and art-historical connections, is an adventure and develops differently every day, every minute. When I enter the process of painting, action and reflection always change. While I make a spontaneous setting with a flat brush filled with paint, I reflect in the same breath what this color, this setting causes. This creates an interaction between spontaneity and reflectivity that determines the image process.
What are you talking about in painting?
For me, painting is an expression of being. In other words, everything that goes on in me, that I cannot formulate verbally or in other media, my painting formulates.
Furthermore, I am concerned with the modulation mentioned above. Modulation is a painterly problem, a painterly effect of color on the surface, in that it does not remain flat, but develops a physicality.
Do you want to say something with your art?
When one deals with painting, the indispensable question arises: where do I stand as a painter and what do I have to say to my time? This means that I have to know the history of painting and at the same time have researched my being, my possibilities and my kind of talent. By combining these two, a view of painting emerges that brings the painterly problems of this period forward as innovatively as possible.
My works formulate painting, they do not express anything in this sense, they do not have to depict or reproduce anything. I live painting and the picture shows this process of creating the essence of color.
Who and what inspires you?
These can be experiences from nature, inner landscapes and soul pictures. All this is transported in color, but not in the sense that I represent or depict something, but that I develop something that is, so to speak, an art space.
Nature is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. I transform influences, experiences and experiences into an inner landscape and externalize it as a second nature in my paintings. It is important to know that my way of painting does not come abstractly from nature to the picture, but just vice versa. I develop a pictorial reality that refers back to nature. This is a new context.
Which techniques do you prefer?
My picture develops from inside to outside, from light to dark. This creates a spatial color oscillation between the viewer and the ground. This oscillation creates a vitality, a sensuality of color, which finally understands the picture as an object and thus thematizes the modulation of the whole picture.
The earlier works developed according to the Sfumato technique with egg tempera and resin oil paint. The more recent works of the last 20 years are based on the technique of acrylic paint and I use these colors to glaze transparencies and layers on the picture surface. This technique allows me to create a sensual vibration and a volume in the picture, so that the picture becomes an object.
Are there colors and shapes that you prefer?
I have no particular preferences and try to realize the whole palette of color in my paintings. Contrary to Barnett Newman's saying „Who is afraid of yellow, red and blue?“ On the contrary, I want to master every color in its area to such an extent that I can shape and use it in all its complexity.
For me, form is a mental concept, a concept of the structural, holistic view, which shows itself in the wholeness of the picture. That is quite in contrast to earlier times when form had an illustrative, representational and descriptive function.
How do you work?
My paintings are created on the floor because the glaze technique contains a very thin, transparent color. I often create lakes of color on the surface so that I can achieve this layering of the color and this does not work as a vertical easel painting.
Furthermore, painting on the floor has the advantage that I can walk around it. I don´t have to define what is above and below because I don´t depict anything like abstract painting anymore, but because I develop the picture into a body of color.
What is important to you?
My life consists of forming an identity with painting and not producing pictures. I work on a problem, develop a position, think and develop the thoughts of the Venetians, Cézannes and Turners.
What are your goals?
The goal of this painting process - the construction of the picture - leads to the maturing of a new experience within me, which creates happiness and emotional joy. This must also be transferred to the viewer. If I succeed in this, painting and its meaning are reached.