The Hungry Ghosts // 2022
at wasserwasser Vienna

In many buddhist paintings you will find groups of frustrated figures. They are called the hungry ghosts and gave this exhibition it’s name. They are depicted with large empty stomach and mouths too small to take anything in. The central idea behind these figures is, that they desperately want to experience the beauty and richness of life but don’t know how to. Their physical anatomy prevents them from absorbing anything that is nourishing. They are condemned to a life of insatiable hunger.
I wanted to paint landscapes full of such figures. I painted them busy, doing and moving things, assembling and disassembling the world around them. But as each of them is only focused on a single task they can’t see the side-effects of their action. They inadvertently create a world that is a mosaic of collateral damage.
I wanted to paint pictures about this ravenous searching eating up the world bit by bit and so I filled them with stories about neophytes and powerlines, coal ships and moths. But I was very slow. Because their development extended over a long period of time, they began to taken on the character of a diary. Now they are a record of a time in which the world began to change faster and faster although it was paradoxically paused. Solastalgia might sum it up.

all photography by Valentin Blüml