Hendrik Wittkopf and Lee Rourke on Beckett

A discussion on art and literature
Samuel Beckett at a gallery of Henri Hayden paintings.

In an interview with 3:AM Magazine, artist Hendrik Wittkopf and writer Lee Rourke discuss the influence of Samuel Beckett on their new exhibition, Non-working doing its work:
3:AM Magazine: What inspiration did you draw from Beckett’s essay, “Les Peintres de l’empĂȘchement”?

Hendrik Wittkopf: Beckett’s way of writing is very close to what I think, and reading him it feels as if he was painting himself. Most of my inspiration from Beckett dates back some time ago. When I was young, I read his texts as if they were the very translation of what I did with my painting, only stretched out over pages, whilst I stuck all of it on different layers, vertically, a frame, a still. I am not interested in creating something meaningful, but in confronting the perpetuity of creating ’something’ within a framework of constant change. Trying to do this within a two-dimensional playground of colours gives me immeasurable pleasure and immeasurable pain.

Lee Rourke: Beckett points us towards rapprochement, or the struggle of bringing the objects of our consciousness together. Contained in this struggle is the concern of ‘empĂȘchement,’ where the object becomes invisible and unrepresentable because objects are what they are. Beckett’s essay merely illustrates to us the thin veil of transparency that separates our practice: a shared struggle to represent the objects of our consciousness. Although, I don’t wish to wrap our art in theory to such an extent that it removes the viewer from the thing itself. The philosopher Simon Critchley (who has written some of the best stuff on Beckett today) calls this thingness art’s ‘truth.’ I guess – and I feel Hendrik feels the same way – we want to avoid what Critchley calls a ‘Philosofugal’ situation, where theory ’spins out’ from within to cover art, or smother art’s truth. I think we are attempting an outwards, ‘artopetal’ state where any ‘theory is drawn into the orbit of the thing’ because our show is what it is and nothing besides. All this is contradictory, of course, but it is what interests us right now. I think we are just trying to show the unrepresentableness of things. [Read More]