Professor Ute Pleuger taught from 1999 until 2016 at the Burg Giebichenstein University of the Arts in Halle (Saxony-Anhalt), where she ran the Department of Painting and the Painting Class.
Ute Pleuger: On the study of painting
What is painting? What is a painted image? An illusionistic surface? Or an object? A representation, a description, a narration? Or a system, a model, a sign? A reproduction, an afterimage, a treatment, an estrangement? A copy, a quotation, a montage? An expression? An invention?
Art is manifested in questioning. It originates in an attitude of searching. At the same time, every new direction in art creates new assumptions, invents new methods and rules and engenders its own specific categories. But it never gives answers. For the questions are not aimed at answers that might put an end to the questions: they serve the search as a guideline.
Painting formulates this search immediately: thoughts, feelings, reflection and temperament are fused by painting into an actuality which puts form and content to work in an inseparable connection. Technique is at first just potentiality, a passive vocabulary, which only comes to life from the demands of the image. At the same time, the involvement of the students with the various discourses of the art world receives its value only in relation to their own work.
Therefore, the study of painting should first and foremost develop the creative powers of the students: their capacity for introspection and reflection; their ability to take on for themselves and their work the individualism that asserts its contrast to a society of conformity; and their ability to find and develop their own media and forms independently of the influences and impositions of the art business.
This study is then above all a process of clarification. Nevertheless ultimate clarity will not happen. For art is not something clear, but rather something essentially unclear. In a way, it is the forming of that which is uncertain by means of its methodical origination. A riddle that cannot be solved outside of itself.