I have lived in translation most of my life. Shuttling between German, English and French I am constantly struck by the difficulty of translating the nuances expressed in one language to another. This dilemma reaches its outer limits in the translation of poetry. The significance of painting’s (and art’s) relationship to reality ebbs and flows constantly, a perpetual unstable and therefore a destabilizing value as the capacity of the painting to engage with reality is both limited and infinite. Painting is, to begin with and finally at best, only ever its own reality. Nonetheless consciously and unconsciously we strive to look to find the links and the clues that could somehow refer us to the tangible and the comprehensible, a form of self reassurance. This desire, this need, opens the space for the ‘Realität Bilder’ to operate in.
By adding the German title and its suggestion of the relationship a particular painting is supposed to have with reality, then subtitling this with the English translation, a looping of meaning, interpretation and reinterpretation is set in motion between the title, its translation and the painting. Each new reading drifts into new spaces through the fertile potential contradiction of understanding and misunderstanding.
Stephane Correard wrote about Markus Hansen:
In the face of his memories, Markus Hansen has armed himself with a large, profound and I would be tempted to add, a solemn ‘lightness’, engaging in an alchemical process, as Mallarmé wrote in « The virginal to-day, so glowing, glad and bright »:
The virginal to-day, so glowing, glad and bright
At last will’t cleave for us with wing’s impassion’d blow
This rime-bound are forgotten, that’s haunted deep below
By limpid glacial tides of yet arrested flight!
(Stéphane Mallarmé, Mallarmé in English Verse, trans. Arthur Ellis (Folcroft, Penn.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1927)
Face à ces souvenirs si denses, Markus Hansen s’est armé au contraire d’une grande, profondeur et je serais tenté d’ajouter : d’une grave «légèreté», engageant, dans un processus alchimique, «Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui», dont Mallarmé s’interrogeait :
«Va-t-il nous déchirer avec un coup d’aile ivre
Ce lac dur oublié que hante sous le givre
Le transparent glacier des vols qui n’ont pas fui!»