Berlin Wine Diary: Day 1 – Ten Years After I Gave Up Painting Suddenly I’m an Artist Again!

The title of this entry to my wine diary is radically out of synch with the subject of this posting, because yesterday after three days in the Pfalz I made the decision to return to Berlin for medical tests. It turns out that I probably didn’t need to come back and therefore this blog posting ought to be titled “Pfalz Wine Diary: Day 4”. However, I had already achieved the main goal of my visit to the region, because I had completed portraits of Valentin Rebholz (pictured above) and Hans Rebholz (pictured below). I first painted portraits of the twin sons of Hansjörg and Birgit Rebholz of the famous Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz in Siebeldingen back in the late 1990s when they were small kinds. This spring the Rebholz twins told me how much they liked those pictures, then surprised me even more by begging me to return to do new portraits of them. In a weak moment I agreed to this – how could I really say “no” ? – not having painted for a full decade.

This meant that when I arrived in Siebedlingen early on the evening of Monday, December 7th I had no idea if I could still paint, much less if I would be able to compete portraits that would satisfy the Rebholz twins or me. It was therefore quite a surprise to me when the portraits quickly took (contrasting) form on the first day of work, this Tuesday, and by the end of the second day of work, this Wednesday, I was already wondering if there was anything else I could do to them. This Thursday morning I decided they were finished and started work on another painting, but within hours I was unwell, the medical advice was clear and I was on an ICE express train on my way back to Berlin.

Now it seems that my problems are much smaller than I thought, I could probably have stayed in the Pfalz and completed at least a third and possible a fourth painting. However, that is all theory. The two paintings above are the facts. For me the interesting thing about them is how radically different they are to each other, although the Rebholz twins (now 20 years old) look so alike it’s hard to tell them apart at first glance. It was a conscious decision to go down this path and try to make that work. How well it works is up to them and up to you. Obviously, the way I paint – influenced by artists as diverse as Diego Velasquez, Francisco Goya, Chaim Soutine, Max Beckmann and Francis Bacon – is not going to agree with everyone and I expect to upset as many people as I intrigue or actually please. That polarization of audience opinion is inherent to the way I paint no less than to the way I write. Please let me know what you think, and don’t ever hesitate to criticize wither my writing or my painting.

Alongside the reassuring news that I almost certainly don’t have a major health problem, the other positive thing which today brought was another painting commission. It feels seriously strange to suddenly be asked to paint again after having started again following a ten year break! I am now planing to pack my paints and brushes in exactly one week and take them with me to NYWC (New York Wine City) to work on that commission. It will be the first time I ever painted in the US. Wish me luck!


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