The Artist


1958 — 2004


Even when he was still in school, OUBEY was already fascinated by the physics of Einstein and Heisenberg, the metaphysics of Leibniz, the philosophy of the Greeks, the poetry of Celan, Rilke and Trakl, and the classics of science fiction literature – intellectual influences that merged together in his later work.

OUBEY first studied architecture at the University of Karlsruhe. Meeting Prof. Fritz Haller became an experience of special significance for him. It led him from architecture through the planning of futuristic urban and living concepts and the planning of prototype space colonies all the way to the existential decision of living for art. His interest at the same time in Ilya Prigogine’s pioneering ideas about overcoming the separation between academic disciplines and between science and art confirmed his own original understanding of what art can and should be. Exploring the connections and interactions between chaos and order in the cosmos, the exploration of the true complexity of our being, became a further substantial element of his artistic work. Parallel to these experiences,

Exploring the connections and interactions between chaos and order in the cosmos, the exploration of the true complexity of our being, became a further substantial element of his artistic work. Parallel to these experiences, OUBEY began painting in 1979. In 1983 he made the decision to live and work as a free artist. In 1987 he moved into Markus Lüpertz’ former studio in Karlsruhe, where he worked until 2001. His first solo exhibition in 1992 remained the only one. Despite the commercial success that he already achieved on the opening evening with his avant-gardist Photon Paintings, as the result of this experience he decided not to expose himself to any further public influence for an indeterminate period of time. He upheld this decision until after moving to a new studio in 2003, when a further productive period of work began, including the creation of the Star Pixels.

OUBEY was beginning to seriously consider presenting the results of his work to the public again for the first time in a long time, but while he was planning this next step, he was fatally injured in a traffic accident in August 2004.

Oubey experience

This experimental short film by Bernd Mueller undertakes an initial approach to OUBEY and the secret of his art. It follows the traces of his thinking and his creative work, taking the viewer along on a journey into a world full of surprises, but still left in the magic of its complexity. A world that OUBEY newly opens up to the viewer through his art again and again. If you want to enjoy the full sound experience we recommend to use loudspeakers or a good headphone. The Super 8 and video material used for the film has been treated using a computer program, so that the images

dissolve again and again into dynamically flowing pixel streams, accompanied by the French composer Kangding Ray´s soundtrack of sound-images. Sound and vision of the film are interactive: they can be manipulated by moving the mouse. The original image and sound recordings used in the film are presented to the public for the first time in this film. They come from the archive of the Atelier O.U.B.E.Y. and let OUBEY speak – not only in his own words but in some parts also with his own voice.

Virtual Visit at OUBEYs Studio

Experience a Virtual 360 Degree visit to OUBEYs studio. Thanks to Kubikfoto³ who created this extraordinary technique, you are welcome to do a panoramic walk, taking as much time as you like to look around and explore.

In his own words

Thought N°1


‘The change in the imaginary world of the viewer is not caused by external influences, not through the viewer walking around the object and seeing, for instance, changes in the light and shadow effects, but rather by the painting being modified in his consciousness, triggering an irreversible process. This is something that a painting can do when it has the right kind of quality. Then the movement starts on the surface of the painting by itself. Then there are key moments, key points, in this two dimensional object that purposefully trigger a four dimensional projection in the mind of the viewer, a chain of optical contexts continuously shifting and reassembling. The dynamics of motion are stored in the painting.

The square constitutes the geometric groundwork on which, under certain conditions, disorder and chaos can transform into order. The picture is set within the square, with the square symbolizing a state of low gravity, so that new dynamic states can continuously arise in the consciousness of the viewer. The pictures of Jackson Pollock have something of this quality, too, although with Jackson Pollock the dynamics of motion painting have such a high priority that the impression they form in the mind is more of a superb monotony on a high complex level, stabilized at that level.

My paintings, on the contrary, continually compose and recompose themselves in new structures during the whole time they are viewed. They have an initial period of viewing in which the painting can cause unease or possible irritation or an enthusiastic response. In the course of viewing the viewer can move forward on a journey, a stronger mental process can unfold in the viewer’s mind than is the case with other paintings which define and represent themselves more clearly. In the painting I seek to lay out the processes that can take place in the mind of the viewer in such a way that the final outcome remains open. This means that I consciously accept an irreversible structure. In the end the idea is that each viewing tells its own completely fresh story – as the deliberate, explicitly intentional core of the painting’s being.’3

From the OUBEY Blog July 2015.
Thought N°2


‘I am in favour of explaining things as far as possible, exploring them with scientific means and methods to the greatest possible extent, because I believe that one should employ as much rational reasoning as one can, because that is always still so little, and behind it there is always still a great mystery. For this reason I am also in favour of spending billions for particle physics and basic research in physics to explore which building blocks our universe is made of. The more we know about such things, the greater and more elementary our irritation will be. Because behind this there is always still an even greater mystery. If Darwin´s theory means that we are connected with all forms of life; if the expanding universe means that we are connected with the entire cosmos; does it mean, as further conclusion, that the evolution of consciousness is connected with God or something comparable? This question cannot be answered, but it has to be explored.’

From OUBEY MINDKISS – STAR PIXELS: The Tie between Star and Human Opens Up True Worlds.
Thought N°3


‘Due to the lightness of the material PhotonPainting creates a completely different airiness and transparency in the pictures, it finds the human range of perception in the electromagnetic frequency range, signifying both speed and the greatest possible precision or perfection at the same time. Every imprecision can now be a meticulously planned imprecision.

PhotonPainting is more an idea, a philosophy than a technique for realizing images. If ideas Are strong enough, they look for a corresponding form. In this case, the idea of painting with light led to PhotonPainting. It is perhaps also a reminiscence of the borderline character, the universal constant of the speed of light, which separates us human beings from physically experiencing the universe. This constant keeps us in a quarantine, whose boundaries we can only overcome with the help of ou

From OUBEY MINDKISS – PHOTON PAINTINGS: Taboo Zones Perform a Metamorphosis of the Real.
Thought N°4


‘Immediacy is crucial for my pictures. Immediacy is something which can only be reached through feelings. Ideally the picture should go straight into the eye or into the heart like a sound or a ray of light. With all the intellectual considerations that may be behind it, ultimately the emotion is crucial. Because emotion is something that speaks to everyone, everyone! Feeling is thinking ahead and it is also thinking it over. Emotion is like a rubber band, a springboard, a catapult. The higher the space is, in which emotion can develop, the better. I hope my picture may fascinate an Australian aborigine just as much as an Eskimo or a guy from New York, Frankfurt or any other big city. For me, that too is an element of the universal.’

From OUBEY MINDKISS – DRAWINGS: Lines, Codes and Patterns Tap Into New Spaces Of Emotion.
Thought N°5


‘‘The link between the individual and the whole is one of the major themes permeating my painting. That is the arch. Art can connect huge arches, from the private to the universal. Where else does that work? Nowhere. That is why it is unique: to be able to go from the individual into the many, then from the many into what is wholly singular, isolated.

There is a famous poem by Gottfied Benn: Verlorenes Ich – Forsaken I. That plays an important role in my work. It is addressed to the many. To many single forsaken I´s. To I´s, that are so highly conscious of themselves, that they completely separate themselves from their own experience of the universe. We are many and yet we are alone. We are alone and yet we are facts of a many. A grand whole. Everything is connected with everything and my art is an optical expression of this insight. It simply reflects the joy of the insight, is in principle an ode to it, a poem.’

From OUBEY – MINDKISS: Material Aesthetics and Anythinks For Mental Use
Thought N°6


“It is not the case that I want to implement the insights of natural science in painting and make them visible, not at all. Natural science plays the same role as poetry, as Rilke or Paul Celan, as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, as Boris Becker, Mozart or Ilya Prigogine. It is one of the many experiences that you have and which flow into art. I try to gather thse experiences together and take them into my art, and not to categorize art as a further experience in this series. That is a huge difference.

The goal of my art is specifically not to reduce the complexity of reality to a hidden simplicity following a set pattern, but rather to to leave the world in the enchantment of its complexity and uncontrollability, and to try to counter this with something that Matchs this enchantment. Because nature itself is an art work.”

From OUBEY MINDKISS: Cosmos in the Mind as Primal Ground of Art.
Thought N°7


“The difference between painting and working with a computer? For me there is a very minor difference. The difference between painting and a pencil drawing is more fundamental than between painting and working with a painting program of the computer. Even the difference between pencil and felt-pen is greater, means a greater adjustment in terms of feeling, has a greater effect on the pictures that are created.

In this respect I must, however, mention that I do not work with programs, which create the typical computer-graphics. With respect to my painting I am not at all interested in the differentiations which arise from the multitude of Mandelbrodt´s theory, that is to say fractals, graphic designs which repeat themselves, etc. I took a look at it, thought about it and that is all. In my opinion, it is far too typical for computers, belongs to physics, to science, just as, just as the false color photography or astrophotography. All of these things belong more into the field of scientific graphics.

In future the computer will play no greater role than thus far. I will be glad when the time comes that computers are so widespread that they will no longer be of more interest than a car or a razor today. Many people confuse the computer with software. Software will certainly be one of the essential topics in the future; computers and all of the techniques will continuously be improved (…) The artists have to take a close look and comprehend what is happening. They have to swallow, absorb, digest, use, misuse, destroy and do what they want with it. Their genius is called upon to take things the way they come, to grab them and to do with them whatever comes to their mind or whatever they like.

That means to accept the computer the way it is. But it also means to be courageous enough to replace the computer by a pencil again. It is simply necessary to take all liberties. If the computer should, by chance, be lying on your way, pick it up, but stamp it into the sand on another occasion.”


From: MINDKISS - The PhotonPainting. Catalogue from OUBEYs 1st exhibition in 1992