The images are simple on first sight. Layer upon layer, transparent and opaque shapes and forms in tinted tones overlap and stratify next to and upon each other. Greenish floating cushions or hooks; jagged and pointed, or lightflooded browns and yellows and other colours enter into dialogue with each other, loaded with all their historic imprints. It is unclear if the shapes are abstract forms, or take on impressions of landscapes, spaces, blots or organisms: it depends on which angle you choose and which qualities you wish to notice.
The paintings develop their complexity through an aspect of time, captured between their layering and strata. This aspect of time is not only crucial in terms of what we see on the canvas, but is also important before the brush is even taken up, in the time spent mixing and preparing the paint.
This smell that drives painters into the studio each day, its as if the solvents can directly release images from the artist’s head and make them flow directly into the paint. In the case of Markus Sailes’s paintings, the first decisions are not made in front of the canvas, but are also made on the table whilst mixing the paint. The canvas is not an empty neutral surface, that can be used in order to execute a formerly made decision. The canvas responds to another logic of time. What kind of logic is his?
In his book on Francis Bacon Gilles Deleuze writes, that every image is preceded by preparatory work. In the course of this work the painter’s mind is already in close connection with the canvas and its conditions.(1)  This thought could be continued: Inscribed into the canvas is its historic nature and its anachronistic nature within the field of contemporary art. During the preparatory work you are already entering the act of painting. The latter consists of agonising with the more or less figurative conditions and how to work with them, to make them irreconcilable, to wrench, clean or cover them. Further the preparatory work is quite time-consuming. In Markus Saile’s case, during this process detailed observations overlap with vague impressions, created by a certain atmosphere in an everyday situation or by filmic images. Often a certain atmospheric colour settles on the canvas, like a musical note, from which the process of painting can be further developed. Then follows the dispersion of further paint; insignificant, rebellious brush strokes, resulting from a certain movement of the hand that negatively define a space, or crossing the edges of the painting – a pictorial topography filled with tactile references.
Each application of colour realigns the references within the painting. Sometimes landscapes of spatial situations function as vectors for a direction into which the process of painting is driven. But mostly this is a result from leaving a chosen trail, when new possibilities; a new gap, a passage or a tunnel appear within the painting. During this process the painting should not be seen as a state of deficiency on its way to completion, instead each layer that is applied should be seen as an entity, an ongoing process that makes visible the possibilities of the process. The process of painting is not organised by abstract codes neither is it strictly structured, but rather each of Saile’s paintings is singular and self-contained.
The way in which the paint is washed off or painted over again, the layers of paint added or taken away, the representative and the non-significant, the marked and the empty parts – they all build up to untamed frictions: Alternating and shifting between the classical image-as-window (in the realm of representation) and the diagrammatic image (in the realm of pictorial problems), in order to take into account another Baconian concept.(2)  This is a matter of a diagram of time. They can be understood as a certain state within an open process that does not follow a linear course, but constantly causes new decisions.
 The time inbeded in the structure of the paintings gives the applied colours access to spread, blend and trickle away. The colours do not stop to make appearances, no matter how long one looks at them. Accordingly the diagram is not a prefabricated visual scheme, but instead is a map of the balance of forces that emerge during the process of painting, to be experienced when reading the painting. In some of the paintings these forces allude to a center in which they meet, in other cases they jump over the borders of the painting and take over the wall or other nearby paintings; like non-serial Cliffhangers, painting with an open end.

1 Vgl. Gilles Deleuze: Francis Bacon – Logik der Sensation, München 1995, S. 62.

2 ibid, p. 63









Ilka Becker


On  Markus Saile´s Works