August Strindberg was mainly known as a writer, but he was also a radical painter for his time. He viewed the landscape of his native Sweden as a reflection and metaphor for his own churning emotions and his diverse compositions of waves, rocks and skies done in different color palettes and moods can be interpreted as self-portraits and as such an insight into the mind of a genius and his own ability to establish a relation to his isolation, a kind of loneliness that recalls Bergman and which seems detached from the archetypal array of stock responses. In this respect Strindberg evokes Alfred Jarry as a creative force that spills its critical content across different mediums; the gloomy pessimism flowing into recessed corners of the psyche. It is in the more savage and primitive; symbolic snapshots of the psyche that Strindberg holds the most interest for viewers today. The unchained abandon must have had some influence on a Jackson Pollock or De Kooning.
Strindberg believed that chance played a central role in the creative process and he explored this concept in all his artistic work; a personal and radical approach at the time that would later form the core of artistic movements such as surrealism and Expressionism.Sue Prideaux:Strindberg was pursuing his painting very seriously; he admired Munch’s paintings and they worked together in the closest situation Munch ever got to collaboration. It was an intellectual rather than physical collaboration. They discussed theory and proposed subject matter but each was far too jealous to pick up a brush and apply it to the other’s canvas. Strindberg piloted the role of chance in creation as the new direction in art. It was part of a theory of the accidental, or theory of chance in the universe which was one of Nietzsche and Strindberg’s reactions to ‘the old positivism that had assured us that the universe held no secrets, that we had solved every riddle’. The irrational and the uncontrolled were the gate to the occult and the subconscious with all its strata and labyrinths; this was where the ultimate truth, the ‘psychology of the naked soul’could be found.Read More http://www.sueprideaux.com/pages/books/edvard_munch_behind_the_scream/extract.htm
Douglas Feuk:In an essay from 1894 called “Chance in Artistic Creation,” he describes the methods that he employs, speaking about his wish to “imitate […] nature’s way of creating.” This text is strangely prophetic, foreboding the automatic techniques of the 20th century. His method is to start more or less at random, trusting nature’s inherent desire for form (what he calls “matter’s drive towards representation”) to eventually make the picture develop out of the paint, almost by itself….
…In his paintings there is always a “motif”—often stormy skies, agitated waves, perhaps a lonely rock by the sea. But these landscapes or seascapes are still half-embedded in the material, like a world in the process of being created. Boundaries and differences are fluid: Air might have the same density as stone, and the rock seems mysteriously fused with the water—as if they were all but different manifestations of the same matter. In fact, the tactile surface in Strindberg’s paintings is at times emphasized so much that not only does it provide an image of nature, it also, in part, gives the impression of being nature. In the painting High Sea, for example, there are sections that Strindberg has blackened with a burner, but also patches of a brownish-gray, rough structure that seem to be not so much painted as oxidized, or in other ways created by some elementary process of nature….
Convinced that he had changed the development of painting in a progressive direction, Strindberg published his essay on chance and artistic production in a Parisian journal. And in his experimental photography from the same year, there are examples of images that are even more in line with what he called “natural art.” I am thinking of his “celestographs,” where the surfaces not only look weathered with an atmospherically-created patina, but even seem to have been made in physical collaboration with the weather. Read More:http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/3/celesographs.php