Tribute to Ernst Fuchs

Ernst Fuchs Friend and Mentor

On the 9th of November 2015 Professor Ernst Fuchs, painter, sculptor, poet, architect, poet, musician, teacher & mentor to many passed away in Vienna, Austria.

Vernissage mit dem Maler Ernst Fuchs

I met Ernst Fuchs for the first time in 2007 when I entered the doors of the

Apocalypse Chapel in Klagenfurt, Austria..Surrounding us were murals

depicting the visions of the Apocalypse, rendered in full spectral

colour. Biblical patriarchs and angels woven in with scenes of

modern-day life; cities, astronauts and flowering celestial gardens.

For twenty years countless artists had lent their hand to assist

Professor Fuchs with this commissioned project.

Ernst climbed down off the scaffolding and my friend Amanda Sage

introduced us. Amanda told him that I was the young Polish artist who

had arrived from Australia, eager to work as a painting assistant.

I was struck by his strong presence and energy field. I read in

the lines of his face the story of one who had lived a full life;

etched in were all its triumphs, joys and sorrows. His energy was a

cross between the powerful, vital/animal forces and the fiery angelic

influences which guided his work. I had the impression that he knew

that life was a dream and approached it with the same flair and

fluidity he would exercise in one of his paintings.

He spoke to us – ‘Not all men are created equal’. He went on to

explain how we are each given different gifts to use and apply in

life. He asserted that in this place, he was the ‘Capitan’, the

conductor of this orchestra in which we were now invited to play.

Motioning towards the paints and brushes he pointed to an area of the

mural to work on. I was immediately plunged into what was to become an

unforgettable six month apprenticeship with the greatest teacher I

could have hoped to find.fuchs kuba

I assisted Ernst on projects in Klagenfurt, Monte Carlo and

Vienna. His work ethic and dedication deeply impressed me. I was open

and receptive, trying learn as much as I possibly could, so I made

the decision to be humble and keep quiet. I learnt mostly by being in

his presence and by observation. I can almost hear his voice

expressively booming some verse in German, then switching to convey

the esoteric meaning behind some Old Testament passage or any other

thing which may have floated through his mind at the time.

In Klagenfurt he generously offered me and Amanda his room and

made us feel at home. His paternal love extended not only to his

countless biological children but also to his painting assistants. On

one occasion his patience was tested when I accidentally bumped the

scaffolding right next to the ‘Angel of History’ mural. A large glass

jar filled with dirty grey turpentine spilled all over the mural and

crashed to the ground. I ran for my life (and to get the mop) as he

exploded in a short-lived rage. We managed to clean and rescue the

work from what could have been quite disastrous. He was however

usually very tolerant of people from all walks of life and gave his

apprentices much freedom to express and grow under his watchful eye..

I was 24 years old during this time and had traveled to Europe

following the calling of my heart to expand my knowledge of the Old

Master painting tradition and also to retrace my family history.

My parents had lived in Vienna, emigrating there from Poland

before I was born and then settling in Melbourne, Australia. Arriving

now in Vienna I sat on a park bench and cried tears of gratitude

realising that I was now exactly where I needed to be in life. A

fateful email from Amanda Sage had led to many doors and opportunities

opening. She had been living in Vienna for a decade and had worked as

an assistant to both Ernst and his son Michael Fuchs.

During that summer Amanda introduced me to the mixed egg tempera and

oil painting technique; this being the approach we most often applied

while painting in the Chapel.

Masters Apprentices

From left: Martin Blomohr, Ernst Fuchs, Kuba Ambrose, Amanda Sage, Chris Gertez

In Vienna I was given a room at the Otto Wagner Villa, or the

‘Fuchs Villa’ as it was known to us. Together with another Viennese

artist I worked on some of Ernst’s large scale works in a auction

house called Auteno. Soon the cold of the winter set in and after nine

months abroad I felt the desire to return home to Australia.

The 9 months stay in Europe was a rebirth for me on many levels.

I had discovered my soul’s purpose and rediscovered who I was. . Back

in Melbourne I was surprised that my correspondence and tuition with

Ernst seemed to continue in the dream realm.

Ernst also visited a number of my friends and family members,

most of whom had never met him before.

I came to understand that Ernst Fuchs is part of a collective

soul group, not confined to any particular epoch or location, sent

here on a special mission to integrate certain artistic styles and to

re-enliven the tradition of sacred devotional art. I perceived that

his passion was for uniting the truths of Christian mysticism with the

roots of the Hebrew tradition, in a way that reconciled his faith with

his ancestry.

I am grateful to have found a teacher who understood and

portrayed many of the stories and truths which I had also grown up

with, through the lens of beauty and profound artistic vision.

Ernst taught me about dedication, craftsmanship,surrender,

service and that life is endless improvisation. In a dream he told me

– ‘Live your life with passion and paint with love’.

He understood that Creator gives to each and everyone certain

talents and gifts and that we need to honour our gifts by developing

and applying them.

His creative mind entered the fields of painting, drawing,

architecture, music, furniture and product design, poetry and theatre,

embracing and enhancing these forms by his inexhaustible creativity.

His life made manifest the dream of a ‘complete art’ of which both

Steiner and Goethe had written.

The manifold gifts which this man has left behind will continue

to enrich and influence our culture and the earth arts for centuries

to come.

ernst-fuchs

‘Triumph of the Christ’ by Ernst Fuchs graphite on canvas 200x200cm

eva-cristina

‘Eva Christina’ mischtechnik on wood (oil & egg tempera)

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Wall of the Apocalypse Chapel at the St. Egid church in Klagenfurt, Austria