Alfred Gockel: Intention and Discovery
Written by Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro
Like a gifted musician, Alfred Gockel approaches his canvas.
Just as in Jazz, when he begins there is an underlying skeletal structure for the composition, but it must be fleshed out through instinct, sensitivity, experience and the ability to always be attuned to the “moment.” Musicians create the form of music through pitch, harmony, melody, rhythm, repetition, tone and dexterity with their instrument, honed by countless hours of practice and performance. The visual artist’s formal tools are equivalent: line, color, composition, spatial and proportional relationships, texture and surface and a mastery of draftsmanship gained only through the practiced repetition of capturing in two dimensions what eye perceives in three.
For centuries, philosophers, historians, critics, artists and musicians themselves have pondered the relationship between the aural (musical) and the visual arts. Alfred Gockel just lives it.
When he paints (as seen in the Park West Gallery “stop-action” video of Gockel creating a painting), he seems to effortlessly apply his lines and forms, painting ambidextrously (a skill considered essential to Jazz drummers). But this belies the intense state of concentration that holds his attention. Gockel appears to instinctively select his colors, render and adjust his shapes and forms and freely move between his large brushes (for tonal areas) and his smaller ones (for detail). But, a closer look will reveal that his actions are a synthesis of instinct and determination, just like in Jazz: a delicate balance of intention and discovery.
Gockel has created his “performance paintings” all over the world and for years, essentially in his way, he has produced lasting “recordings” of his visual “music.” For Park West Gallery, he has created paintings before huge audiences at cruise ship art auctions, and at cruise ship gallery events. But his reach is not limited to art auctions at sea. He has exhibited and painted live from New York to Los Angeles, throughout Europe and in the Far East. Gockel is a restless soul, and his intention is to expose the entire world to his art and he pursues this goal tirelessly.
I have known Alfred (Alex to his friends) for many years. In fact, when we are together (we are the same age) at Park West Gallery events we often receive comments about how similar we look (he’s a much better dresser) and we’ve shared many laughs about being “separated at birth.” But together during auctions at sea as well as Park West Gallery events in locations on dry land, we have traversed the globe and our time shared has always been special for me.
Steeped deeply in the history of art, Alfred is adept at a myriad of fine art disciplines beyond painting, including etching, serigraphy, lithography, sculpture and jewelry design. When we are together (whether it’s in Russia, Berlin, or Las Vegas), we jockey back and forth, bantering like two old Jazz musicians reminiscing about their mentors and inspirations. Except in our case, rather than names like Coltrane, Miles, Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong, our conversations are peppered with the names, Picasso, Miro, Kandinsky and Dali…all clear influences in his work.
In 2009, Gockel painted two of the last remaining unpainted panels of the Berlin Wall, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Germany. Gockel was invited to showcase these compelling and history-making artworks at the German Embassy in Athens, Greece as part of the reunification anniversary celebrations. In 2006, Alfred was honored by being chosen as an official artist of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Winter Olympics held in Turin, Italy. Millions of people were exposed to his art through that event.
Over his career as the accolades have piled on and the celebrities, corporations and enthusiastic collectors have lined up to collect his artwork, Gockel has remained true to his original calling, humble and approachable. He possesses the stature of a “Rock Star” in his native Germany (another musical allusion), but neither this, nor his success has gone to his head. Instead he remains devoted to filling the world with art that is energetic, colorful, joyful and expressive of a lifetime of creativity in flow.
In 1910, the Russian abstract master, Wassily Kandinsky, one of Gockel’s artistic heroes wrote in his seminal treatise, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, the following:
“Color is the key. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many chords. The artist is the hand that, by touching this or that key, sets the soul vibrating automatically.”
If Kandinsky’s words ring true, then the art of Alfred Gockel is playing a fine tune, and the world is tapping its foot and whistling along.
To learn more about the artist, please visit the Park West Gallery Alfred Gockel website at www.parkwest-gockel.com
Alfred Gockel fine art is available for purchase through Park West Gallery and its cruise art auctions at sea. Browse the Park West Gallery Fine Art Collection at http://www.parkwestgallery.com/collections
Read more exclusive articles by Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro at his blog, “Who Killed Art,” at http://morrisshapiro.com