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Jens Lehmann & Paul Zita

14.12. 2016

8 - 10 pm


With Paul Zita and Jens Lehmann, I have juxtaposed two artists who underwent a fundamental change in their artistic practice at a certain point in their careers. Zita transitioned from action art to drawing and aquarelle painting and Lehmann from figurative oil painting to abstract collages.

Nicoleta Dănilă, actress and theater director has contributed a text about the evening, see below.

Jens Lehmann studied at Städelschule Frankfurt from 1991 to 1997 with Per Kirkeby and Georg Herold. Jens lives and works in Frankfurt am Main.


Paul Zita, born in 1950 in Steir, Upper Austria, died in 2005 in Bad Soden am Taunus. He studied at the Städelschule with Paul Eliasberg (1969/70), Hermann Nitsch (1971/72) and Peter Kubelka (1979/80). From 1969 till 1978 he was a member of the Frankfurt-based artist group meff.


By Nicoleta Dănilă

Chapter 1. Stone at the Exhibition

“What are you doing?”

Hmmm… How should I begin this? It has been a while now since I first met Stone. A little inappropriate said. I shall reformulate. It has been a while now since I received Stone. As a matter of fact, he was brought to me from Japan by a, let’s reluctantly use the word “friend”. I am still considering if to appreciate Stone’s presence in my life as a reward or some sort of punishment. Needless to say my life has, turned completely upside down. Truth to be told, I only have Stone to blame for all the misery that has befallen upon me.

“I know you can hear me! I know you’re not working, but chatting with your virtual friends in your virtual world of gaming! We need to talk!”

Stone is a… little piece of rock. Talking rock. But you shouldn’t be astounded by that given the country of his origins. He has completely took over one of my winter coats, turned the pockets into a duplex and totally, forbade me to wear that coat again since I am not welcome in his “neighborhood”. And yes, Stone is a “he”. According to his own scientific explanation, his gender condition is in close relationship with the country of his residence. As an example, if he were to move to France (which I hope he will soon consent to), he would turn into a female, and her name would be Pierre.

“I know you’re not the most recommended person to talk to about it, and I don’t trust your judgment, but I have nobody else to talk to, and I need to ask you something.”


You don’t want me to bore you any further with all the details of our first encounter, neither do you need to listen to my lamentation on having to live with a tiny little rock undergoing teenager privacy issues, yet having no consideration for mine. My privacy, I mean. But what you might find very interesting is his curiosity and determination to learn everything about the world. I was puzzled at his ignorance myself, but I came to understand it as before being found washed up on a beach he had been living on the bottom of the Ocean. Oh, he is an oceanographic expert, I have to give him that.

“If you continue to ignore me, I shall delete your gaming account while you’re not at home!!!”


That’s it! No matter how much I am trying to ignore him, he always knows how to push the right buttons and get my full attention.

“What do you want, Stone?”

“What do you think about art?”


“I think art is what makes the difference between a polished and an unpolished society. Take yourself for an example.”
“Education can do that, too. Take yourself as a bad mentor for an example.  And I’m not asking about the role of art in society. I’ll get to that later.”

“Then I don’t understand your question.”

“What is it so special about art that drives people towards it?”

“Well, I guess it’s because art connects people with other people and with themselves at the same time. It is a dialogue of the souls that exceeds physical boundaries. Humans do art to express their feelings and vision of the world. It has a lot to do with creativity and imagination. Without the presence of these two elements, art is not possible. We all have them inside us except that some people have so much of them that they can’t and should not hold it in. Therefore it all bursts out in the form of painting, music, sculpture, dance, or even architecture. That is what we call art. And because creativity and imagination are such inner and most intimate skills, you may also call art the language of the souls. As we speak English, souls can speak Art…ish… I guess…”

“I see,” came Stone’s answer, “ It’s like when you stick notes on the refrigerator for others to read and buy milk. You are not present, but you leave a message. Artists use their own artworks to leave encrypted messages. It sounds like a cult! Do you have to pledge an oath and sign it with your own blood to join? Then do they teach you Artist so you can understand all these hidden messages? These artworks can be very rude, did you know that?”


“I don’t find that comparison a very nice thing to say about art and art lovers, Stone. You always seem so determined to misunderstand everything I say only so you can get on my nerves. Don’t imagine I don’t see where you’re heading to therefore I will take the bait. Why can artworks be very rude?”

“I went to this Exhibition tonight, and I discovered one of the works to be extremely rude. I didn’t expect us to exchange phone numbers, but I was hoping for a simple and polite Hello. And I also had some questions I needed answered.”

I must confess, any cultural incursion was what I least expected from Stone.

“You went to an Exhibition? This is something new! And wonderful progress when I think of the other ubiquitous sites you have frequented before. I am quite proud of you! What kind of Exhibition did you go to?”

“There is a Gallery on Langestr. 31, downtown. They exhibited some very friendly aquarelle drawings and the rude collage I was talking about.”

“Atelier Langestr. 31. I’ve been there.”


“Of course you did! I took their address from your contacts!... mmm… Your… face… is… turning red… and I don’t like where this usually leads to. Stick to the point! This is not about you! Not everything in life is about you, Nico! Great! Now you have reached the boiling temperature! It’s not as if I read your private conversations or something! With few exceptions, they were all boring! You need to spice up your life a bit to raise my attention! Look on the bright side of it. I went to MY FIRST cultural event, and you are getting angry at me for unfair reasons! Hey, do you want me to tell you about the drawings? Nice fellows, very friendly, a beautiful mixture of colors. I’m sure your soul would have loved them!”


“Ok, Stone, we’ll talk about boundaries in interhuman relationships some other time. Let me see if I got this right. The collage in question was rude because he ignored you?”


“And the aquarelle was friendly because she chit-chatted with you?”
“We didn’t chit-chat… It was… I don’t know… It was different. Words were superfluous. I looked at her, and I felt it with all my particles. The collage, on the other hand… stone cold… Nothing! Nada!”


Stone put on a pouting face as if somebody took away all of his toys, and none of the other kids wanted to play with him.

“Oh, my dear Stone! A piece of artwork is not supposed to like to everyone but only to those who can connect to it on some level. Emotionally or intellectually. You were trying to be mean earlier, but sometimes art can be indeed like an encrypted message. You need to know the code so that you can read it, hence you need to read more and widen your knowledge.”

“Thank you very much!!! Now I understand that if one doesn’t get art, it’s because they’re stupid!!! And you dare say this is not a cult!”
“I did not say you were stupid, Stone! Why are you reacting like this? Art is simply subjective! That’s all!!!”

“That answer is not enough for me!!! WHAT IS ART? You know what? I’m gonna get some scissors, get into your closet and come out with a collage. I can be an artist, too, and if you don’t get my art, go and read a damn book!!!”


Oh, boy… here we go again!!! Will we ever be able to have a conversation without any door slams?
Even so, here I am, sitting in my room, no other sound but the low buzzing of the standing lamp, questioning myself if Stone isn’t somewhat right…

It reminds me of a movie I saw a couple of years ago… Exit through the Giftshop. About a guy who started as a cameraman for Banksy, then ended up declaring himself an artist. Dude was far from that, but people paid tens of thousands of dollars for his works.

Good movie, watch it if you ever have the chance. I should go and check on Stone before he takes his artistic demons seriously.

Nicoleta Dănilă,

actress and theater director, based in Frankfurt am Main.

Kindly supported by Kulturamt Frankfurt.



text nicoleta
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