Actually, was the German Romantic tradition important to you at all when you were younger?
Yeah, my parents had Caspar David Friedrich posters hanging in our house. I love pathos; maybe that’s my German side. I love the way that feeling resonates in silence, the fake silence of a landscape. Pathos is a feeling that has a grip on time. It can expand a moment. That’s what I want to get at with the paintings: to have this expanded moment, and for that I need that kind of feeling.
I can get that through decoration. But decoration of a certain kind, which for me really does have to do with kitsch. There’s an immense satisfaction that I get out of a perfectly curlicued line, for example, or a Disney face. Kitsch is not ironic the way I use it. Kitsch, for me, means a raw emotion that is accessible to everybody, not just somebody who knows about art. That’s where kitsch comes from to begin with: it was basically art for the people.
Your painting Carlotta (2013) seems to testify to that. It has a strong graphical background and a bunch of central shapes, but also a woman’s face that almost recalls a beauty advertisement.
I often paint faces onto the surfaces, and usually then erase them. In that case, it was so perfect as a carrier of longing that I left it. It’s called Carlotta because, as a child, I always thought Carlotta was the coolest name on earth. It’s my fetish object of a name, projected into the painting. The name makes the painting iconic, and I’m interested in that too: how do you create an iconic painting despite itself? Iconic not because it’s recognizable as a soup can, but iconic in itself, because it insists on that power.