Rudi Fielitz freelance artist

Escape Or Die!

Quite some things had happened before the thought of actually fleeing the country developed in me. I was considered an unadjusted troublemaker in this system all along. I got arrested twice. Once by the Berlin Wall at the age of 14 / 15. Then got transferred for disciplinary reasons to Stralsund and Greifswald where I had to work very hard every day in glass and road construction.

The pioneers of The German Youth treated me disrespectfully since they felt provoked by my questioning of a lot of the things.

One day a car stopped in front of our door and the Stasi took me out of my parents’ house and brought me to a re-education camp where I was bullied, picked on and trimmed for the communist system.

In spite - or maybe just because - of all that I found my way of protest through art. Art has always been my strength. Back then already I had won small prizes and started training courses in several cities including Dresden which was within the scope of an art support program.

It was clear to me – escape or die!

Never would I have survived in this communist country. I was only 17 after all. At first I had no plan whatsoever. Maybe that was a fortunate circumstance. I knew however I couldn’t say goodbye to anyone as that would have meant big trouble for my family. From then on I was on my own.

I took the train to Sassnitz by the Baltic Sea because there was a ferry line to Trelleborg/Sweden. I spent the night in the woods at a spot where I could see the trains being shunted on the ferries in the direction of Trelleborg. I jumped under a wagon and hid there. I would be safe there, I thought. After some travelling in that position the train suddenly slowed down to come to a halt in a watergate, locked in the back and in the front. I did not expect that and thought that was it.

The entire train got searched systematically. Even dogs were in action. I kept pulling myself as close as I could to the underside of the wagon and got almost squashed. For whatever reason I never got detected. After some time that felt like an eternity to me the wagon set back in motion, drove out of the gate and rolled up onto the ferry. This time I thought I had made it. Suddenly it stopped again and a wagon in front of me got decoupled. I couldn’t move and was numb thinking now they got you! However, apparently the train was just too long and after a moment the section I was under moved up onto the ferry.

The ferry cast off. I kept still until we had gone further out on the Baltic Sea. Then crawled out of my hideaway and mingled with the Danish and Swedish passengers. Never too close, never too isolated from the rest. Just like them except for having “you are free now” on my mind. However, something was not quite right. A man in uniform on the lower deck shouted something up to me. I hadn’t spotted him before and couldn’t understand him. I realized immediately though that this was a ship from the GDR and not a Swedish ferry. The hunt goes on, was all I could think. The uniformed shouted at me again. I went left on the upper deck. He did the same on the lower deck. I turned back and went in the opposite direction. So did he. Then I just ran to find a place to hide. I didn’t care and just jumped frantically in a dark hole without knowing what I would land on. I injured my head on a propeller but didn’t mind as long as I had gained some time. We were approaching Trelleborg and one could see the coast already. How for heaven’s sake was I to get off this ship? I waited a little then leaped overboard and started swimming towards the mainland. Men in uniform kept screaming at me to swim back or they would start the fire. I kept swimming. The Swedish customs officers on the other side had watched the scene and now began for their part to rebuke and warn the GDR crew that we were located in territorial waters of Sweden. I swam and swam and made it to the mainland where the Swedish helped and provided cover. They took care of me, gave me food and a place to sleep.

The next day after getting things done at the Germany embassy I set out for the Federal Republic of Germany.

The internationally renowned artist was born in 1948, fled from East Germany via Sweden to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1967 and settled down in Karlsruhe.

His painted works are based on three main themes: the infinity of the universe, the landscape - and the human being. To Rudi Fielitz art is not only about delicate craftsmanship but is always a challenging process - artistic working at its best. This also demonstrated in the various materials that he incorporates into his work. These have very different technical and aesthetic qualities which the artist has to grapple with. Rudi Fielitz treats them in an experimental way, while exploring their form. He creates structures that enhance each other so that fascinating aesthetic harmonies emerge. Alternatively, he brings opposing materials together for intentional disharmonious contrasts. For example, the artist, in working with safety glass has to mould the natural resistance of the material by hand or with tools. However, the choice of the material and the type of its processing always depend on the specific direction the art piece is taking.

However, the material is only a means to an end. The actual challenge is to put out there the best artistic statement possible. Consistently Rudi Fielitz continues to work on an art piece, sometimes for months and years until he is satisfied with the concept and its artistic quality. In this manner he creates under constant self-reflection paintings and pictorial works of great artistic power.