Oto Rimele:

“I do not paint light, I create it.”


June 2018



*What are the core and fundamental themes and concepts of your art?

My painting compositions could also be called “generators of light” or “catchers of light”. By saying that I am a “painter of the light” I want to emphasize that for my expression and communication with the observer I do not need the material worldbecause my fundamental topic – the painting motif – is the light itself. And the role of the light is to trigger in the observer the ability to activate the non-material. My painting image plastically generates the color and the light. It could also be said that it reflects the light, or that the color appears in the form of a shadow.

In an early period of my creating I approached the painting motif in a veristic manner. The scenes of objects I was painting were connected with the exposure to light and the light itself in several ways. This period was followed by a gradual discarding of the object painting motif. I discovered that the light itself can be the object of my interest, and I came to understand that the light in the painted image is actually created by the painter himself. That the light is the consequence of the painter’s ability to experience and communicate the light. In my paintings the light changed from something that is merely “observed” to something “present” and “active”. Something that enables my painting to transfer the level of communication with the observer to a non-object, abstract level.



* How closely do these ideas relate to your creative process and the actual act of creating the art itself? 

The most important moment in my painting career was the discovery of the optical painting procedures that enable my paintings to radiate color light. In my creative process, I am interested above all in those optical procedures that enable the generation of color light in my paintings. I do not show to the observer the painted but the real color light that is created by such a painting composition when it generates the radiation of the non-material part of my painting. In a similar way that Dan Flavin does it. Only that he activates the light using a bulb and electric power, while I generate the color light and radiation of color in a natural, somehow sublime way.

If Flavin produces light in an “electrical” way, in my paintings the color light is produced in an “unplugged” way. In my paintings, the color light is created as a reflection of an intensive painting color that appears on the edges or rear parts of the paintings and that the observer cannot see directly when it is reflected on the wall. This is enabled by a special structuring of my paintings that I have been developing intensively in the last two decades, since the mid-90s, and that enables such transformation of the color material into the color light.

My procedure of creating a painting composition thus includes a process of dematerialization of the material part of the painting. This could be compared with the procedures of visual communication used by James Turrell. His creative process consists of a “condensation” of the optical experience of light. This process involves some kind of materialization of the light, which in my creation moves in the opposite direction. In my creation, I expose the material character of the image to the process of dematerialization and the material becomes the light. Turrell and I are both interested in the light as the essential part of communication with the audience and as the magical feature of the transformation of the material world. However, he is interested in this in a monumental way and I in a more intimate way.



* Which artists/designers/creators (past or present) are you inspired and influenced by?

As a painter, I was of course primarily interested in the continuity of the painting expression, as it has been known through the history of fine arts. In accordance with this, I discovered different stylistic expressions and appreciated various artists. The aforementioned historical insight helped me to understand the tradition of painting within the continuity of development and get acquainted with the development of the fine arts communication and visual communication.

Parallelly to the above-mentioned principle of researching the continuity in painting, I developed a much more personal relationship with particular works of art and artists. This process can be illustrated by the use of a personal suitcase into which you put things that are dear to you and that belong to you in some way. In such a suitcase I put the fragments of painting experiences as well the findings and decisions of other artists that I found of utmost importance for the understanding of and for experiencing the communication within the painting procedure, and (or) that touched me in some way with their special vibration or spiritual presence.

I could say for myself that I am a child of the postmodern period, which opened the doors widely to what was before unimaginable procedures and principles within the artistic production. The eclecticism of postmodernism thus enabled the freedom of combining the incompatible as well as the emergence of hybrid procedures. However, the final goal of such freedom was – as in every other stylistic period – to achieve the uniqueness and above all the truthfulness of the artistic address. The truth that is capable of delivering the existential and spiritual essence of a free human being within the universality. The limitations and the integrity of a work of art are characteristic for all historical periods and artistic styles – whether the work of art originates in the antiquity, in the Renaissance or in the studios of the New York masters of the American modernism (Hans Hofmann, Archile Gorky, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko, etc.).

It was then necessary to expose my eclectic collecting of the contents, findings and fragments that I had kept in my (Duchamp’s?) spiritual suitcase to the process of transformation into an integral concept and to use this concept in a concrete individual experience. This way, my individual artistic expression and style started to develop, as well as my personal fine arts (visual) language.

At this point I would like to mention some of the artists who permanently influenced my personal development and for whom I have a lot of esteem, these are Stefano di Giovanni (Sassetta), Fra Angelico, Caspar David Friedrich, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Kazimir Malevich, De Chirico, Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Bill Viola, James Turrell, as well as musicians such as Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Miles Davis and Jimmy Hendrix. Among the theorists, I would like to mention Carl Gustav Jung and Clement Greenberg.



* Which of your work/works stands out as a highlight, a favorite, or a significant point in your creative growth and development? and why?

As the climax of my artistic creation, I’d like to mention the emergence of a brand-new type of painting image. The genesis of my painting research brought me to the situation when it was necessary, owing to the specific character of the contents, to find a totally new type of formulation of the painting content.

Usually, he painter addresses the audience in the form of frontal address in which the color substance covers the frontal part of the painting. The need to express the painting content using color and its non-material presence led me to the re-formulation of the painting image.

In my wish to address the observer and to direct him towards the area of the non-material, I tried to create a painting language that would enable that. Thus, I had to leave the area of a direct formulation of the color composition on the surface of the frontal part of the painting and create conditions which would enable the activation of the non-material radiation of color. I was less and less interested in the frontal parts of the painting and focused my research on the possibilities offered by the marginal, lateral and dorsal parts of the painting image.

I put a lot of effort into the re-structuring of the painting image and gradually I managed to activate those parts of the painting image that was totally passive or somehow overlooked since the emergence and the first use of the table painting. By leaving the frontal part of the painting and by moving the content to the marginal and hidden parts of the painting image I have achieved the opening of new, additional expression possibilities.


The basic surface or the material carrier of the painting thus went through radical changes. This is how the wooden constructions were created that emphasise the form of the marginal parts of the material carrier of the painting. Such works of art are thus not only the carriers of the color substance but also enable the transfer into the non-material presentation of the color radiation. The observer thus no longer views the painted color material directly but sees the reflection of color and the generation (emergence) of color light. Similarly, to the phenomenon of stained glass windows – yet in a totally different way – the observer is faced with the color light itself and the presence of its activity in the interier.

When such a painting image is exposed to daily light, in accordance with the changing of light in nature and in exhibition space, the painting image and the intensity of the color radiance change too. My intention is to connect the painting image with its place in the “mental space” and thus enable the observer the “inner communication with the non-material”.



 * An artist of powerful creative voice and message, what do you wish to communicate to your audience? 

Art cannot wholly replace the reality of life. The life of an individual is composed of various layers of truthfulness and truths. Art needs to be understood as a parallel, yet autonomous truth.

The modern man is gradually loosing his spiritual substance, which is being replaced with the non-essential and the over-material. That is why I address, in my creative process, a person’s ability to respond again as a spiritual being, capable of non-material communication.

With my work, I try to wake up and activate the observer’s mental potential. “The Dematerialized Luminous Bodies” invite the observer to discover his own sensibility and a new “mental opening”. An active observer is thus able to experience silence and perceive the visible, although it is quiet and disappearing. He is offered the possibility to leave the world of the self-evident and enter himself. And to take time only for himself.

The activation of the non-material view in the observer and the opening of his interiority bring him also the re-awareness of the nature and of the explicit contact with the surroundings. I would like for such painting images to create in an observer some kind of “mental spaces” in which the body and soul, the material and non-material, form an integrity.



* Creatively, professionally and in all aspects of being an artist, what are your goals for your upcoming works and art.

In the middle of 2017, I started preparing the project called “Circular lights”, which will be presented in Vienna in April 2018. The exposition will be based on six new round paintings and will include sound compositions. I look forward to being able to present to the viewers besides the “round color light” also my vision of the sound image.

In November 2018 I will go to Berlin where I will be working in an art residence studio for a month. I also plan to prepare a minor exposition there.

I have been presenting my work mostly to the European audience. I would be very glad if I could present it also to the American audience.