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Akt, Corona Januar XVI
2021
Kohle und Ölpastell auf Papier
100 x 70 cm

Detlev Foth

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ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
2021
50 (w) x 40 (h) x 0,3 cm
19,7 (w) x 15,7 (h) x 0,12 in
acrylic and oil on canvas board
Coronavirus series

“All Quiet on the Western Front“ is an international bestseller and famous anti-war novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front. The novel was first published in 1929. The book was banned and burned in Nazi Germany. In 1930, the book was adapted as an Academy-Award-winning film of the same name, directed by Lewis Milestone.

* * *

“We have so much to say, and we shall never say it.”
“He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front.”

~ Erich Maria Remarque (ex: All Quiet on the Western Front)

* * *

About the background:

This painting is one of a monochrome series of current works that artistically deal with the subject of the coronavirus and the effects. There is an existential threat that is not exactly tangible, remains diffuse and yet dominates everything. What does this pandemic do to the individual? What will remain of this strangely depressing time? Sometimes a look at history helps. In modern history, how did previous generations deal with such dramatic episodes? And we understand, there were dramas of completely different dimensions that humans are able to cope with.

A war of annihilation raged around a hundred years ago (1914 - 1918) that set the entire world on fire and changed everyone: The First World War is the key event of the 20th century and is still having an impact today. The history books contain the names of the generals and the great battles. But what about the normal individual, the one in the trenches as well as the families who struggled for survival back home? How did you think, how did they feel in the midst of an existential threat that they had no control over?

The photos of the battlefields of the First World War, in particular the fighting on the Western Front in Flanders, before Verdun and on the Marne and Somme (between German, French, British, American, Belgian, Australian, New Zealand, Portuguese, and Canadian soldiers) formed the con-crete template for these paintings. The monochrome color scheme of the paintings, dominated by Prussian Blue, refers to the historical black and white photos. The letters that the soldiers at the front wrote back home are well documented. And anyone reading this field post today will notice that the men in the armies (and their families) thought and felt alike despite their opposition. And even more, how similar people were to us with all their hopes and fears at the beginning of the 20th century, more than we probably want to admit.

Today these battlefields have been renatured. The fields and forests are quiet and peaceful, and almost nothing gives an inkling of the earlier horror, the trenches, and mass armies that generated unprecedented destructive power with modern weapons. What determined the fate of millions of people is now only a fading memory. And this is exactly what the artworks in this series of paintings tell about. There is a fundamental insight: every horror has an end at some point. The chance to shape life individually and freely again will return. The coronavirus will only remain a temporary episode in all of our lives. And in a hundred years at the latest we won't even remember what is troubling us now, what caused it, whether it was good or bad, and whether it was a medical or a human disaster. The dark fades (too) quickly. Man is a survivor and always looks ahead. And that's how I want the paintings in this series to be understood, despite the difficult subject, as signs of firm hope.