Speech during the opening of the Exhibition in Nürnberg EuromedClinic

“Art and skill”


EuromedClinic Fürth, November 30th 2003

Using text passages from Heinrich Rombachs “Life of the Mind”. Through several hundred thousand of years man lived in an ontological constitution which already lifted him out of the environment and made him a human being – well “owned mind” – but not yet the objectifying, the planning and itself knowing mind, but rather the mind who has found itself only — and invented, brought out itself as easy as anything.

We want to call this basic form of the creating and even self-producing mind the skill. Skill is not the same as making. Skill resides only in that producing, in which man with the make at the same time develops himself. Therewith skill — the art — becomes the basic form of the manhood. In the primeval times – and sometimes even today – man experienced his skill — but also his lack of power in the ancient phenomena of the nature: Flood — the Water. Earthquakes — the Earth. Disastrous storms — the Air. All destroying fires — the Fire. Here they are, the Aristotalian basic elements, in their character form distributing and form destructive.

But the fire is the simply facination.

The eye does not become tired to pursue the play of the flames, the fight between glow and darkness, between light and matter which resolves in glowing gases and smoke. A deep meaning belongs to the fire for the self-discovery and self-invention of man. Maybe it constitutes the first “religion” of man. The first central point. Not for nothing the holy ghost is associated with the flame. The form statement of the fire: It warms and sheds light, it serves the cooking, baking, roasting, burning incense, hardening, clearing, hunting. At the same time weapon and danger, helpful friend and fierce enemy.

Phenomenology of the fire

To be able to use the fire offers man a new space of experience. To restrain it and to make it available where it is just used, without its burst : In the stove for cooking, in the oven for heating, in the forge for forging, the brand on the flank of the herd, Frederick the Great and his tobacco council, Marlboro and the smell of the adventure till this day … It controls the life sphere from the centre — The central heating as a modern expression of the archaic phenomenon: It arranges everything on itself, structures the surroundings circularly, concentrically. The fire — it behaves like a living being which is – strictly speaking – also burning. Respiration nothing else than controlled combustion, oxidative processes, are perpetuating it. Fatburning, almost a topos of the modern nutritional medicine. The fire starts small, grows and needs food, can go out easily in the beginning, die out, disappear, it needs care to grow, but breaks out easily then and becomes uncontrollable — it wants to be protected. It outgrows itself — causes itself the wind which is needed to fan the flames. Then the omnipotence of the fire storm is easily developed, the destructive. The oldest myths of the end of the world — and the any time present fears — are those of the world fire. The modern terror which has created his icon in the burning Twin-Towers … The fire is beginning and ending. Constant companion of man. Does it surprise that man learnt a lot about himself from the fire. The fire is at all times a centre of meeting, from the campfire of the shepherds up to the Easter fire. The centering power of the fire is the origin of the human consciousness; Centralisation and concentration belongs to this since that time. Man could not have trained his inwardness without fire. A man, who brings something forth, also is called as somebody who has fire. (german phrase)

Thomas Girbl and the fire

Thomas Girbl also has fire. We have met in summer for the first time on an alpine hut in the Karawanken, which was managed by his mother. Immediately a spark was jumping over (german phrase in relation to fire = the chemistry was right), which has kindled the enthusiasm. Fire and mind – I think we had it just before. The conjointness with the elements of the nature, knowingly, that man lives from these elements grows, takes power, but also can be destroyed in it, this does not come by chance. Girbl takes his inspiration from the experience in the elemental power of nature. The bush fires of Australia have also setted him free. But he prevented himself of being destroyed, but rather caught the fire, artistically domesticated it. His paintbrush is the flame, his colours are the glow and the cinder which climb up, in miraculous manner — phoenix like — and manifest themselves extremely vividly: virtually on the brick. The fact that his pictures do not burn — only he can say, how many -nevertheless – were maybe consumed by the fire, his burn victims to the element — resides in his skill to use the fire such dosed that it becomes a permanent form, objects and colours, we can marvel at here and today, whose warmth and play of light and darkness touches us. Yes, also the darkness, as the absolutely contrast of the fire, is in his pictures, and makes them thereby authentic.

I want to close with some sentences of the Viennese Philosopher Eugen Maria Schulak, who found affected and moving words about the brands of Thomas Girbl:

In Girbl’s pictures nature is not only illustrated, but rather caught and impressed on the material, branded. The creative strength of the fire is always visible in burned tints. Nevertheless, in the centre there is the warm, yellow light of the flames themselves. Everything looks enlightened, it gleams. Even from the depth light still issues forth, makes the composition clear and lights it up as it come from the back. The colours of the elements join as well as horizontally and vertically drawn curves and lines. The latter look brushed, scraped, they turn and get through themselves, meet, cruise each other at central places, resolve and lose themselves, often beyond the image border. Sometimes they also return again, to move to the fire to warm themselves.

Let us be warmed from these beautiful pictures in dark season.


Michael N. Magin MD