Artist Statement

Charles Klabunde: Master Printmaker, Painter and Fine Artist

The Existential Reality of the Visionary Mind

Charles S. Klabunde, July 1999

My art is the creative act of giving shape and form to the demonic and angelic images that lie within the shadowland of our living essence; the unknown anxiety of despair and meaninglessness in the face of our non-being. What draws me to Icarus facing death ... God Pan in despair ...the Furies roaming the world in a state of mental imbalance ... draws me to this abyss. What holds me at bay is the existential realism of our non-being. The creative act is my affirmation of being in the face of the abyss of nothingness. My work then is an expression of Existential Realism.

Unlike fantasy art, existential realism does not rely on escaping the concept of being for the idyllic sense of well-being. It is not an escapist act. In entering the shadowland, the artist does not conceptualize what he wishes or is known. Instead, he moves his vision beyond the collective consciousness into the archetypal form of the collective unconsciousness, the undefined and disturbing emotions, felt but unseen, and from these felt and unseen forms he must create shapes and images that can be assimilated into understandable forms.

These images --- nightmarish, fantastical and terrifying --- may be beautiful and mysterious, obscene or crude, but in all cases they create a certain imbalance that reflects the anxiety of our collective selves. Their existence demands a reflection of our meaninglessness, of the superficial reality that has no affirmation of self in what we call the meaning of our lives. Thus, these images draw us into the mystery of our unconscious being. If these images are unsettling, they are meant to be. For if we do not acknowledge the wonders of this unknown, abstract non-being world, we become like sleepwalkers of our own delusionary dreams. If we negate our non-being, we negate our being and our only hope for the affirmation of our potential self. Knowledge is looking into the eye of the storm. Being and non-being is the Janus face of our existence.

Existential Realism is not a recent phenomenon. It has always been with us. It is the representation of the spirit world and gives solace to our feelings of isolation, of our existential self, from the physical world around us. Cave paintings, sculptures from Africa and New Guinea, are all excellent examples of Existential Realism. These are part of the existential realm in the concept of defining a reality of our non-being, the void into which we all disappear. We draw on these forms for strength and understanding. When we do not, estrangement from our physical world becomes overbearing and a sense of hopelessness and despair prevails.