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Abel Auer, The Sun Clock,
2009, Ink, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60cm
© Corvi Mora
Abel Auer, Older Than Yesterday,
2006 - 2009, Ink, acrylic on canvas, 59 x 69.5 cm
© Corvi Mora
Abel Auer, The Swan,
2009, Ink, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 80 cm
© Corvi Mora
Abel Auer, Vellecht er,
2008, Oil, ink and acrylic on canvas, 105 x 90 cm
© Corvi Mora
Abel Auer, Untitled ,
2008, Oil, ink on canvas, 130 x 115 cm
© Corvi Mora
Abel Auer, Untitled,
2009, Ink, acrylic and oil on canvas, 130 x 110 cm
© Courtesy of the Artist and Corvi-Mora
Abel Auer was born in Munich, Germany in 1974, and currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. He has participated in exhibitions worldwide, including at the Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Kansas; Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; Tiroler Künstlerschaft, Innsbruck, Austria; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Le Consortium, Dijon, France; Centre Cultural Andratx, Mallorca, Spain; Velada San...[more]
London, Feb./ Mar. 2009 - I had the great opportunity to meet and talk with Abel Auer whilst he was installing his solo show at Corvi-Mora. Auer’s work is an energetic rollercoaster of elements intuitively placed, testing viewer’s sensibilities towards semiotics. The paintings have elements of the post-impressionists (Gauguin, Van Gogh), melded against a surrealist’s organization of space, all filled with a violent fluorescent colour scheme. Everything is skewed, a bit awkward, a bit out there. Our conversation was as colourful as the paintings, which he busily signed in preparation for the opening. This could also be attributed to the box of cold medication in combination to the wispy imagery surrounding us in the small upper floor gallery. In short, after one box of day nurse, one broken computer, a “luck would have it” internet conversation, and a time slot in an internet café… This interview was born!
Abel Auer, Older Than Yesterday, 2006-2009, Ink, acrylic on canvas, 59 x 69.5 cm, AA09-3; Courtesy of Corvi-Mora Gallery, London
David Yu - I found it interesting that you inadvertently chose landscapes as a subject matter not remembering that your great grandfather was a landscape painter. During our conversation you said you picked the landscape as a subject in order to play with the composition; it is apparent that your paintings do have a skewed, altered classic composition basis to them. Do you think this was a subconscious shift, where you were attempting to break from traditions, create something new or of-the-moment? Or perhaps build on an already existing model?
Abel Auer -There aren't any traditions any more. I am not going to explain post-modernism right now...
If someone wants to break traditions or create something new nowadays he better choose to be a genetic scientist instead of becoming an artist. Mice with human ears on their backs, pigs huge as horses...they are the surrealists of today.
My family came from Yugoslavia to Germany after the Second World War.
I lived until I was 10 in one house with my great grandmother and my grandparents. Their flats were filled with these big kitschy landscape paintings of the lost "Heimat".
I like to see art especially something old fashioned like paintings as a medium for sentimental need. A substitute for something that is lost forever (like nature for example).
I think painting is dead but still I like to play with this corpse, put some lipstick on his face and nail him some old wigs on the shoulders, which I had sprayed with day glow colors before…
DY - You seem to be delving into abstraction with your more recent paintings. Though your interest in abstraction is inherent in your older paintings, such as a skew in perspective or loose fragments of elements released into the picture plain. Is there a reason you are currently shifting towards a surrealist informed abstraction?
AA - I don't see a difference between abstract and representational any more. I also don't think that I am shifting towards this or that. It's more a jumping around. There are several genres I like to use: landscapes, portrait, half figure, figure. They give me a certain frame in which I can play around with a certain kind of forms. I like to use organic, geometric, ornamental, eastern or western. Sometimes I am not using these genre frames so the elements do not represent something else. That makes a painting abstract. When I start a painting I don't know what it's going to be at the end. Some landscape formats can be also hung upright so (that) they become a portrait.
Abel Auer, The Emperor's Old Clothes, 2009, Ink, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 80 cm, AA09-7; Courtesy of Corvi-Mora Gallery, London
DY - You were saying how you found it difficult to find a specific way to define your practice. When somebody relates you to the post-impressionists or heavy metal illustrations to children’s book illustrations, it seems right. I can certainly see the difficulty since your work encompasses all sorts of subject matters and deriving from multiple roots. Do you find this lack of parameter frustrating?
AA - It is frustrating for people who have to write about it, I guess, and for me to read it afterwards...I am sorry for that but I am interested in too many things when it comes to visual culture and everything is infecting my practice somehow. The art market and theory likes to throw around with this easy labels but I think it is a lack of complexity if you can name things so easily. Let's say I am a slovenly mincer, which was filled with everything you can put your eyes on.
DY - The Hamburg art scene was the one that your professional practice grew up in and one which you seem to relate to the most. Could you describe how your practice benefited from being situated there and how Hamburg has cultivated you into the artist you are today?
AA - Oh gosh, I can hardly answer that question without writing half part of my biography... It is such a hate love (relationship). Hamburg is provincial in a good way, I mean its art scene (actually it is more a (sub)cultural scene because it also includes musicians and other genres) has really its own strong tradition and style.
Precise thinking is expected even after 11 beers.
The problem is that no one from the outside art world takes notice.
Whenever I curated a show with Hamburg artists it was surprising how good and unknown it was for everyone.
I don't know... I left.
I hope it falls into pieces.
Abel Auer, Untitled, 2009, Ink, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 110 cm, AA09-9; Courtesy of Corvi-Mora Gallery, London
DY - What can we expect to see from you in the near future? Do you have any shows coming up or are there any projects that you are involved in?
AA - I don't know. I really believe these are the last days. I am collecting all the news about climate change and other malfunctions of the bio-system...The Mayas say 2012 it all comes to an end, on the other hand, they found methane gas on Mars,...which means someone is or had farted there. Maybe the great questions are going to be answered...
I guess I stay at home for the rest of the year and start to paint flower still lifes.
ArtSlant would like to thank Abel Auer and Corvi-Mora for their assistance in making this interview possible.
-- David Yu