December 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
So I am very very lucky to be friends with Katie Horstein and Viktor… Viktor Witkowski is an amazing painter and we were lucky enough to be able to score a painting, very reasonably priced should anyone who reads this be interested in another one of his amazing canvases.
This is perhaps the most amazing thing that I own— a painting of the Wardack province in Afghanistan. This is the moment immediately following a blast. I have another painting of the Logar province, now hanging on my wall. Do you think I used the word ‘amazing’ enough in the last couple of sentences???
In any case, perhaps beautiful is not quite the word I’d use for this painting—though it is certainly that—it is also haunting. Viktor draws on a long tradition of landscape painting—more English of the 18th c. than Dutch of the 17th—those Romantic landscapes painted through smoky glasses; the pastoral seen through the haze of an approaching Age of Industry—a nostalgia, in fact for a moment before it.
The clash between industry and landscape is a theme more explicitly and less nostalgically addressed in Umberto Boccioni’s earlier work, and earlier even, though less expressively by the American George Inness. But I digress, or rather, jump a century forward. Here, Viktor disturbs the historical landscape by marking it with an event—an IED or a drone bomb drop?
In the painting below a languorous column of smoke rises in the opposite direction of the slow growth of geological time. These two movements split the panel into two distinct times—on the one side a supposedly eternal time and on the other its imminent destruction. In the center—a seemingly oblivious clear blue sky. The mountain itself dissolves into the sky as if its solidity was more tentative than we could have ever imagined it to be. This painting desires another time—a time before the dawn of technological war—the end of science’s promise to humanity. In other words this is another kind of Romance, not that of the Pre-Raphaelites, but one that absorbs the image of its own destruction. A complex and conflictual historical longing—such is the brilliance of Herr Witkowski.
All I have to say is… Viktor your day will come!!!!
So now that Katie is gone, we have this to remember her by, (and the salt, rillons and chocolate). And Katie if you ever get around to reading this, whenever I part from you you leave me with five million new ideas—you are the most exciting kind of friend, most of all because you are also a very good friend. Thanks for sharing.