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Boris Lurie:
Introduction to
"Feel-Paintings" Exhibition
at Gallery Armin Hundertmark

Cologne, July—August 1988

These works continue my "Feel-paintings" from the early 1950's and on.

"Feel-paintings" are made by touching, caressing, almost "carving," as if to appear two-dimension-like, beating, scratching-a physical engraving of the emotionally loaded moment, with both hands, all fingers, elbows, fists, pressing against the surface-and leaving traces on paper or canvas (or other surfaces.)

A physical activity is imbedded the "maker," into the dimension of Infory, and carried out by movements of his arms and finger-muscles. If the first result is not satisfying, the canvas can undergo a second act, or more blind "Feel-treatment," or it can be thrown out. Usually it is the first imprint which is satisfactory.

The expressive power of the realized image seems to be defined by the force of the emotional stirring (an active or a passive one) preceding the physical act.

"Feel-painting" is antagonistic to pre-designed compositions, to improving or extending, as some, stemming out of Surrealist automatism, extend into painterly works; it should be incompatible to changes and refinements of compositions. It aims to rule out everything coincidental, and the accidental gesture.

The hand and finger movements of the "producer" consciously follow a program in his mind- even if he chooses later to subvert or to destroy his original intention during the "Touch-process."

The work process, technically, is a hindrance, full of delays caused by necessary preparation; colors or other work-materials need to be made in advance, and they cannot be changed quickly as far as density or other characteristics (as a pure expressionist painter might wish.)

Evaluating the result is a serious problem. Sincerely or not sincerely so, "Feel-painting" could result in positive judgment on everything that is created. And such an attitude could even be accepted, because each outcome, each "projection," truthfully portrays each "actual moment"-a record of unadorned "Time Almighty" in its progression. Furthermore, or even better so, the "maker" could accept, reject, and chose.

What does the "creator"- or observer-find in such a Rorschach work? Does the imprint visually convey the same or is it alike in its narrative or spirit? How much of his own history does the observer read into it? The blind image-maker should be able to bring the viewer at least close to a region of the maker's "Feel".

A narrative or non-objective painting can evoke different reactions and interpretations at different times by different spectators, even by the same person. Besides other aspects, "Time" is involved thereby. "Feel-painting" broadens and widens the theater of creative interpretation to a point were the observer becomes himself the director-as if becoming the producer of the "Rorschach" image. What the "maker" did not see at the time of making it, the viewer may see.

We are now in 1988, paradoxically belatedly after the actual facts, in something that can be called "After-Auschwitz". The holy fires of the rebellious 1960's have burned out, and left behind the consciousness of this gigantic "industry," viewed from the perspective of the ovens. We, the living, are under this shadow, whether we like it or not. No mass Pop and Yupp can change this.

In the opinion of its maker, "Touch-painting" is part of this unholy industry: "After-Auschwitz-art-making." It also may be deemed "Fast-art", since time is running faster, hounded by the economy (and hardly in the sense of the old optimistic Futurists!) But even better, it can be called "After-art". (I. e. after all "Art" with a capital A had been thoroughly finished.) The word "Art", now again under its economic and academic enclosure, should be used sparingly.

The speed, the shortness of minutes, translated into physical movement, enables one as well to move backwards in time-back with resilience, to the vanished lands. To bring them to the surface-Infories and layers of the lost, to call on the fingers of the ghosts. For backwards in time, as much as the mad dash ahead: is desperate, angry with love, and with hatred! feeling, scratching, beating against concrete walls-today.

* Translated: New York, January 14, 2004

Source: Boris Lurie, Feel-paintings, catalog, New York, 200

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About BORIS LURIE: Born in 1924, in Leningrad, Russia. Together with his parents he moved to Riga in 1925/26. Captured by the Germans 1941 and suffered in the ghettos and concentration-camps of Riga, Salapils, Stutthof and Buchenwald-Magdeburg in Germany. Emigration to USA in 1946. Lived in Paris from 1954 to 1955. Founded with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher the NO!art movement in 1959 in co-operation with the March gallery in the Tenth Street in New York, later so called March Group. He works always in continuing the NO!art movement.—Died 2008 in New York.  more

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