Last journey

Walter Dahn – Zweites Asthma (Beim Erwachen, dann war ich wach)

Walter Dahn, Zweites Asthma (Beim Erwachen, dann war ich wach), 1982, mixed technique on nettle, 220 x 160 cm, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst Aachen, donation of Peter and Irene Ludwig, photo: unknown

Using simple black lines, Walter Dahn depicts a figure who tears its mouth open with both hands. The view into the gorge reveals a skull from which the figure tries to liberate itself. The title of the picture indicates the moment of awakening. The scene could originate from a nightmare in which the artist is in mortal agony, struggling with asphyxia. 

For the painting Zweites Asthma (Beim Erwachen, dann war ich wach), Dahn takes up the aesthetics of prehistoric rock paintings and the totem figures of non-European art. These kinds of images were often created in connection with ritualistic acts, during which the boundaries between dream and reality blurred, in order to give shape to premonitions. Perhaps Dahn’s painting is also an account of a spiritual journey to simultaneously evoke and suppress one’s fears through the act of painting.