Roger Nyssen

Freelance artist and process engineer, Belgian,  born in Aachen (GE) in 1953, since 1980 living and working in Dormagen (GE). At the end of 2016, after an eventful life as an engineer and an exhibition break of more than 20 years, the professional painting and graphic arts again take center stage in my work. In addition to watercolor and printmaking - etching, woodcut - to which I have been faithful since my early days, I now devote myself mainly to oil painting in large formats.

Artistic approach:

‘Against the background of my experience as an engineer and in my Christian conviction, I know about the fallacy of being able to explain our world with physical-mathematical knowledge alone. Perhaps the search for explanations is the wrong way to understand, perhaps it needs awareness and other forms of communication with the material world? Today, as a painter, I am asked to search for the apparent reality, the consciousness of matter and its hidden stories, as well as new forms of expression. Basically, I work in the space between the classical principles of intention and chance. Once a basic image idea or story has been found, I often go further along the well-known paths of surrealistic methods such as frottage or so-called automatic painting to experience and make visible hidden analogies.

In my pictures I search for traces and forms of communication with the apparent reality in natural forms such as e. g. in stone (cycle “Domseelen”) or sand layers (series “Sandleben”), which are association germs far from any clarity. Apparent reality may also appear through human images in the light of mystic places (series “Filitosa”). Often I like to place the result in a mythological context, a provocative contradiction to the ambiguity of the source and the image. But how can we be sure what is true and what is not?

Exhibitions since 2018
09.2018           Aula Carolina, Kunstroute Aachen
11.2018           D’Art 2018, Dormagen
03-04.2019     Denkhaus-Ausstellung, Grevenbroich
09.2019           Catharinakapelle Vaals-Lemiers /
                           Kunstroute Aachen
01-04.2020     Kulturhaus Dormagen, „Metamorphose“
08-10.2020     Museum de Kopermolen, Vaals (NL)
10.20-02.21    Kirche St. Mariä Heimsuchung,
02-04.2021     planning: Salvatorkirche Aachen-Stadt
09.2021           planning: Erphokirche Münster

About matter and consiousness

Extract from my speech on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition "Metamorphosis" in Dormagen on 16.01.2020


In this respect I don't mind if I don't give a justification to the pictures today. What I want to do, however, is to talk a little bit about looking as sense perception and the ideas that should be connected with it, even at the risk that it may seem to one or the other as completely absurd chatter. My in-depth question is: Does matter have consciousness?

My first statement concerns looking itself. Every human being looks differently, but basically thinking also belongs to looking. Unfortunately too often it remains only with that and lacks the essential:  Ideas. But it depends on the ideas, imagination, vision, invention - whatever you call it. There is no difference whether painter or observer. The crux and at the same time the attraction of ideas is that they are deceptive, unstable, one cannot rely on them, they are ambiguous, as we say. If I look a second time, the idea has transformed and the old form is at best still a memory. Thus I come to my 2nd statement: Just as unstable as ideas in our head it behaves with reality which we believe to perceive as matter. There are not few well-known scientists, physicists better said, who go a big step further and deny matter as such even. They argue that it cannot exist because it will never succeed, neither by measurements in the quantum mechanics nor in thoughts, to split it up into the smallest. But where the smallest doesn't exist, there is logically nothingness. The question arises, what we then have to do with, if matter cannot exist? Is it such a kind of software as some assume? Or in other words, is the essence of matter its consciousness and what then is its purpose? I admit this sounds quite absurd. As an engineer, I feel I cannot accept this as a break in my understanding of the world. After all, like most people, I am so attached to matter that I can grasp. And if I accepted the absence of matter after all, it would not be enough for me to understand my obvious existence as imaginary nothingness. So what are we missing to better understand the nature of our existence? As a painter, I can add a lot to the idea that all matter has its consciousness, even is consciousness itself.

And me, with the help of my way of looking for traces, I go to make this idea or vision visible. So I come to my 3rd statement, for which my images may be incentives: because matter has consciousness, one can also communicate with it. Whether among us human beings, whether with the dog, a machine, whether in the field, in a pit or in the stone of a church, I say it this way: communication with matter is possible. We, the stone and everything that surrounds us are not separated, we share a common consciousness that I call communication. This communication does not require touching, only deeper looking to experience the vibrations and waves. So to speak, in a spiritual dimension. And now you may ask: Where is the meaning of the whole, where is the idea? Perhaps it is the transformation, the metamorphosis, that moves consciousness: if everything were real and rigid and would not change persistently and steadily, how boring would all the beautiful communication and my chatter be. And how pointless our existence. Thank God that is not the case! The stone was never just stone, the old gods never infallible and we ourselves never the same.