Excerpt from 2004 Retrospective:
Silvia Hartmann: "I had a dream about a magicians conference. It was very vivid, very lucid and it stayed with me and for some reason, I wanted to remember this, and I wanted to paint it.
I got myself completely involved with a cast of thousands, because there was the key scene where the magicians were coming out of the hotel, down the steps and there was this angry crowd, and policemen holding these people at bay. At one point the leading magician shook his fist at the crowd, and they went absolutely berserk and rushed forward into the line of policemen, and that moment was the highlight of the dream, and I was really fascinated and wanted to paint that.
I spent ages painting like ten million policemen and a hundred million members of the crowd, I was driving myself insane!
I filled I don’t know how many massive sheets of this huge block of paper with designs for this, and I just couldn’t get it right, and in the end started to seriously think about staging the whole affair with actors, and photographing it and tracing the photographs or something.
But then I got the elusive obvious.
It occurred to me that I could reduce this scene to its main elements, then take the main elements and translate them into symbols. And then I would be able to paint that.
So the policemen became a thin blue line, and the angry crowd became a sea of flames of fires, the magicians became pyramids.
And then I could paint it!
So, it was the first time I’d ever done that, and it was just a symbol for a reality that was too complex to be captured in that way.
The important part is to have the symbols in the right relationship to each other, it was very specific how the line moved, and how the crowd was behaving, so the placements of the symbols were very specific in that way.
And this really worked, the picture really works and I was completely astonished and I thought, “Now I can paint ANYTHING!”
Anything at all!
There is nothing that’s too complicated, or too difficult, because I can just reduce it to a symbol or description.
And once I got my head around this, all the things I had always wanted to paint all of a sudden became – available!"
The Magicians 1996, acrylics/mixed media on board
The Magicians, Vector Version, 2016 by Silvia Hartmann