modern cave painting
they can be discovered and read like signs on the wall. if you look through their code, you will recognize short sentence fragments in the scratched pictures:
“collecting berries”, “mammoth killing”, “igniting fire”.
the coded inscriptions show pictures. they point to the era of hunters and collectors, to life in the paleolithic age. the panels act as a hint to the beginnings of art: cave painting. franz betz confirms: “i would like to awaken associations with early historical forms of communication”. the scratching of signs and pictures is a primitive technique, which he takes up with modern means of representation.
the basis of the “images rupestres” are aluminium composite plates. according to the specifications of a digital template, the lettering is scratched onto them by machine. the computer-controlled transmission technology is then followed by “further manual steps”, as franz betz explains.
franz betz contrasts the scratched traces in several layers of colour. he refers to the first wall painting materials in art history, namely charcoal or blood. after first attempts, he found black to be inappropriate because no shades develop on it in the play of light of the surface. red acrylic paint, on the other hand, achieves the desired effect.
the artist finally works on the panels with coarse grinding tools in order to “give the surface a face”. for franz betz, the “images rupestres” are a continuation of his exploration of surfaces and textures. he plays with shapes, creates new structures and refers to the special aesthetics of work traces. this special attraction also characterizes his wood sculptures from the steles and “heads” to “red shoes” and “green grass”.
the characters themselves are based on the “lines”. franz betz had already designed this sketchy letter code with an impulsive drive in 1999, in order to reinvent the forms of the alphabet from “a” to “z”. the artist had last taken up the “lines” in his light sculptures and “plotworks”.
the spatial distances between the scratched letters are variable. franz betz plays a pictorial associative game with it. the “b ee r en”, for example, are growing scattered in the woods, while the “ma mm ut” has the two middle letters sticking out of its face like tusks. the first “images rupestres” were created on 150 x 50 cm plates, but franz betz does not necessarily want to limit himself to these dimensions: “these are scalable works of art.”
the three panels created so far will be followed by further ones. a total of twenty individual works are planned with inscriptions such as “track reading”, “water scooping” or “relieve pain”. an overall picture develops with them. “the series should tell a story”, says franz betz. about the life of the ancestors described in this way, one can also become aware of one’s own existential needs. “what is the core,” franz betz raises, “what drives us?
text: mark preisegger
photos: frîa hagen