Interview with Dr. Eva Zeltner, the heiress of the Blalla legacy, conducted in November 2005 by P. M. G.
P. M. G.: What has made you build the “Blalla Gute-Kunst-Museum”?
E. Zeltner: Blalla and myself, we have decided, to reconstruct a building on my private premises as a museum, because he also has appointed me as heiress of his artistic legacy.
P. M. G.: What kind of relationship did you have with Blalla?
E. Zeltner: Blalla was my soulmate – based on Gottfried Benn, i.e. the friend, you meet only once in life.
P. M. G.: What fascinates you with Blalla’s art work?
E. Zeltner: The dramatic in the beauty, the beautiful painting, life in its full force. He had the ability to rub salt in the wound, be it political, theological, educational or in general. The idyll, which emerges as scenario of horror.
P. M. G.: How did Blalla normally start off a painting and how has he created it?
E. Zeltner: Blalla had the painting practically finished in his mind, before he even started to paint. The intriguing about it was, that he most of the time started in one corner of the canvas or the drawing paper – preferably the top left corner – and then finished at the right bottom corner and then the painting was completed. Blalla always finished his paintings. He completed them; There are no fragments, besides the two paintings he started on the day of his death.
P. M. G.: What kind of paintings are these?
E. Zeltner: One is titled “Snot and Water III”, where he had only finished the base. It was supposed to become the third and last painting of the trilogy “Snot and Water”, the second fragment is a pen drawing of my she-dog “Sugar”, the title was supposed to be: “Sugar is crying, because her legs are so short” (She is a basset).
P. M. G.: Could you tell me something about his first painting?
E. Zeltner: It is a little oil painting in postcard size, which shows the “Schneekoppe” in the Giant Mountains. Blalla was born close to that place and his family had to flee, when Blalla was 4 years old.
P. M. G.: Thus the memory of Blalla of his birth place sort of shrunk to postcard size.
E. Zeltner: You can put it this way.
P. M. G.: You refer to some of the Blallas paintings as key picture. What do you exactly mean?
E. Zeltner: You can denote these paintings as personality profiles, i.e. “Lunacy”, the tied-up man, lying in the valley of the tears, in longing for the female, or the painting, where a family slaughters each other and out of the bourgeois flat a landscape is emerging, with the island of death from Böcklin as background.
P. M. G.: Could you describe the themes which concerned Blalla the most?
E. Zeltner: First of all filicid, thus infanticid, but also parental and parochial education. Secondly the hideousness of the Third Reich. Thirdly, the church and the papacy. Fourthly the abysses in family and other relationships. Fifthly, the exploitation of human beings by other human beings and then the hypocrisy.
P. M. G.: How does that fit to your statement of the beautiful painting?
E. Zeltner: There are beautiful colours, beautiful shapes, partly painted in old masterly technique, impressively beautifully painted, but behind that always the whole truth and the abysses.
P. M. G.: What kind of feelings are awakened in different people when looking at the paintings?
E. Zeltner: The whole spectrum; from large enthusiasm as far as the real jump out of the window, all that has happened up to now.
P. M. G.: Who were his important role models in painting?
E. Zeltner: He highly esteemed Hieronymus Bosch, Rosseau, Böcklin, Kubin, Schröder-Sonnenstern, van Gogh and Goya, but also naïve painters like Bambois, furthermore folk art, from the haunted house ‘til the votive panel, everything was interesting for him.
P. M. G.: Was he also inspired by the nature?
E. Zeltner: Oh yes, very much, i.e. cloud formations, but above all moods of nature.
P. M. G.: Which art genre would you relate Blalla to?
E. Zeltner: To none of those at all. He is standing for himself.
P. M. G.: How did Blalla actually come to his very own formal expression?
E. Zeltner: He was reading a lot and he was looking at paintings of old masters, he was dealing with the symbolism of the Middle Age and following ages and he has integrated this in his visual language.
P.M. G.: What do you think is the significance of Blallas work for today?
E. Zeltner: Blalla’s themes become more and more up to date, thus for example the “Black Series” on the Third Reich; Blalla wasn’t a convenient artist, whose paintings you would just put up like this in an insurance company or in the Federal Chancellery. He is likely to be ignored from officials, but no one can really ignore Blalla.
P. M. G.: Is there any truth in this rumour, that each exhibition provoked something “unforeseen”?
E. Zeltner: Blalla himself said, that every time when he has an exhibition, the director of the museum has to leave his post or the gallery has to close down or has to face any other reprisals. An exhibition opening is always a sensation and causes trouble.