The concept for the paintings in the “Honesty Bars” show is based on the idea of a fic-
tional “Black Tartan”, a one-colour tartan pattern.
Before I got started on the new works I had spent two months working in Glasgow on a group of paintings. All of these had a colourful fictional tartan pattern as a starting point upon which I sketched figurative elements that were either common Scottish topics or images from personal memories.
These paintings were meant to be read as a calculated response to the idea of working
as an artist in a foreign country using some of the clichés that people associate with
Scotland (the tartan and the “Loch Ness Monster”, for example) and using sentiments
close to nostalgia, a way of avoiding the present by glorifying the past.
After my return to Germany I regarded them as “Glasgow Paintings”.
To me this was a body of works that was finished when I left Scotland. This also meant
that once back home I had to come up with something new. Throughout the last couple
of years I had been focussed on finding a way into making my work more abstract. It
culminated in a group of 24 large canvases, all of them 220 x 180 cm, intensely colour-
ful images with almost no figurative elements.
I didn’t want to simply go back to making these but I did want to further pursue the path
into abstract painting. I decided that I was going to try and make a painting by using a
tartan pattern like I had done in Scotland but this time it would be a “Black Tartan” with
horizontal and vertical brushstrokes, all of them executed in just one colour. This gave
the canvas a unique structure, something that was pretty much a hand-painted grid, all
the painted stripes are slightly imperfect but therefore vibrant and animated.
Then I worked on a second layer of paint, executed with brushstrokes of tinted white
paint, a lot less gestural than the work on the big canvases had been. Some of those
paintings would also had a black border vaguely resembling a film still or a projected
In my opinion the paintings from Glasgow have an arranged misconception of cultural
influences on the artistic work. They deal in clichés and escapism.
The “Black Tartans” have a very different direction. They play on the idea of a Zen-like
approach towards painting. Evading emotional content they are influenced by the paint-
ings of Agnes Martin but blended with my current idea of creating abstract images.There
is no open narrative, no obvious allusion. They are patterns created of slow marks but
they are of this world. They may remind you of something like a fictional bar code that
creates a surface sometimes resembling old television sets, a window covered with thinly
woven curtains, loudspeaker cabinets...you name it. Or you could picture me making lists
of several honesty bars, taking down every drink that has been consumed. Someone will
have to pay for these. Honestly!
C. Quabeck, Düsseldorf
P.S. And then there are a couple of paintings with a cat in them. One is called “The Les-
son”. You try and come up with a fictional character in a painting that vaguely resembles
a cat and there you are, being taught a lesson at the same time.
P.P.S. Well... and two paintings I made whilst being an artist in residence in Mallorca in
April 2012. One is a Spanish still life composed of dirty laundry and on top of this a
Spanish guitar, the other is a Spanish “Black Tartan” plus a blur of the fruit trees outside
my studio door.