Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rainer Fetting & The Complicity of Guiltless Guilt

"[It] taps into your aesthetic so completely, so ultimately, with such meaningfully shallow remorse, that you will break down and realize that your whole ironic, self-congratulatory anti-intellectual anti-Republican thing is just a sham. This movie is your bhodi tree. Watch it. Hate it." -Ok Oh Movie Review, 2006

I strolled into a fashiony store in Motauk recently, the sort of place that captures the imagination in just the way you'd rather not have your imagination captured. That is, it's packaged up your own sensibility a little too perfectly. A touch of the tackle shop, a little bit surf shack, a nod to the Goodwill. All at premium, premium prices. The out-of-the-trash paint-by-numbers paintings of ships at sea start at $450. The sarong/beach towels net out around $100 a pop. The surf trunks go for around a 130 bucks. Just really exorbitant, obviously, but the whole thing is done just right. The changing room is a big tent of sailboard cloth. The surf trunks look really, really good. And if they actually sell a $450 dollar paint-by-numbers painting, they'll be stoked. It's almost as if you can't argue with it because, in the end, it works. And there is no reason to deny something that works.
The real find in the store was a thirty dollar art book of impressionistic surf paintings by Rainer Fetting, a book I later purchased at eight dollars from an online used book store. Admittedly, the fact remains I wouldn't have found this book had I not walked into that frustratingly well-appointed little shop.

An excerpt from the dialogue between Mr. Fetting and Karl Pfefferle that opens the book:

Do the uplifted arms in the painting L.A. surfscapeIV signalize danger?

No, Surfers want to get past the wave. Some people dive through it because they don't want to be caught up in its sheer force, or if possible, if it's not too strong, they force themselves over it. And when you raise your arms they absorb the wave's resistance. It is about man's struggle with the universe. In contrast, pelicans hover effortlessly, exploiting the lift above the waves. People become small in the surf. Small figures waging battle with nature. All of a sudden that intrigued me. Previously, I would paint surf pictures that only showed the sea, where you only see the sea's force. Then for the first time I started to add people, who actually move about in these waves.
Basically that is an age-old topic facing humanity; man alone out to sea, alone even in boats. Naturally, in the 17th-century Dutch painting it is the entire crew, but it is nonetheless alone at sea.
Yes, that's another similarity with Turner. Where the battleships go up in flames and sink, and in my case it is just individual persons.

1 comment:

o4trix said...

"People become small in the surf"

Very true indeed.

I've been enjoying the perspectives put forth on this blog for a while now, thanks much for sharing.

-stoked out west