TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHRIS KRAUS

Paul Thek, The Painter Paints, 1985, watercolor and pencil on paper, 18 x 24".

CHRIS KRAUS

FOR PAUL THEK, painting was a both a vocation and a discipline. “We must discover WHY we are really painting, really WHY . . . painters are priests . . . IT IS A GLORIOUS JOB + WE . . . TRY ALWAYS HARDER + ALWAYS WE KNOW IT IS NEVER ENOUGH . . . ,” he wrote in a 1973 letter to painter Franz Deckwitz. While most of Thek’s sculptural work and installations were created on commission, painting was the activity that he pursued consistently, irrespective of a destination. As R. H. Quaytman observed in the 1995 catalogue for Thek’s first big retrospective, “The Wonderful World That Almost Was” at Rotterdam’s Witte de With, both his paintings and his notebook writings are “disarmingly devoid of artistry.” To Thek, who believed that the only antidote to pain lay in execution and beauty, the skills and sleights of hand implied by “artistry” were beside the point. THE PAINTER

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