top of page


Michael Bette's paintings present signs before the eyes - concise, familiar somehow, just before being deciphered, or so it seems to the viewer.

Ornaments in a time in which ornament is only permitted as a quote,

a baroque abundance, mastered in an objective form, but yet in exciting colors that would break up the square of the picture if they were not exactly balanced with each other/against each other. There is a tension in Bette's pictures that doesn't stop as long as the viewer stays in the picture, following the signs, none like the other and yet related, sometimes in a playful, sometimes in a harsh rhythm, contrasting one another, perhaps fighting, similar to the figures in Kabuki Theater that Bette met in Singapore in 2001 and that inspired him.

"A kaleidoscope of autonomous ciphers" says Antje von Graevenitz about these images, the symbols form spaces, gaps that unsettle the ground, there are no coincidences in them, rather musical-compositional rigor. The tones are colors. Tone: this makes it possible to understand significant changes of location for Michael Bette, as well as the atmospheric influences of the surroundings on perception and mood. In the last decade of his artistic work, Bette's color palette has become stronger, more radical.

Balancing becomes a balancing act.



Michael Bette had early contact with Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, Zero artists who fascinated him. He studied in Düsseldorf with one of the most important representatives of Informel, Gerhard Hoehme. A productive conflict in which he found himself: a claim to objectivity on the one hand and a painterly gesture that strictly insists on subjectivity on the other. For Bette, this formed the basis for the tensions for which his work is known: the tension between the impulsively-intuitively placed symbol and its binding form, which was acquired through the process of reflection and which always carries with it the urge to change.


In the past, his drawings preceded his paintings, diary-like notes with a fleeting character that were authentically developed on the canvas with color. Today Bette applies the characters directly to the canvas, but first comes the idea of the color from which the characters develop, each developing its own grammar.


Kafka's tormenting desire to "see things as they happen before they reveal themselves" comes close to light in view of Michael Bette's pictures. The viewer encounters things before they are defined in terms of names.



Dr. Elizabeth Wagner

Humboldt University of Berlin

bottom of page