Speech Randegg Castle:
Jacqui Colley and Harald Häuser, 31.8.2019 | Andrea Dreher
Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear friends of art, dear Titus, dear Harald, dear Jacqui,
an exhibition like this, which is also the result of a workshop, suits the maker Titus Koch. Because for him there is virtually nothing that doesn't exist, including spontaneity and tackling it. Only for us laudators is such an exhibition "stressful", because a "work in progress" is difficult to put into static words. But it doesn't have to and shouldn't be.
Anyone who visited the current Venice Biennale with the title "May you live in interesting times" could not help but notice and even physically experience that contemporary art always puts its finger on the wounds of time. Thus topics such as the environment, exclusion, foreigners, exploitation, waste of resources, gender, identity, etc. are not only present in the media, but are now occupying us all on this globe!
The two artists in this exhibition, Jacqui Colley from New Zealand and Harald Häuser from Germany, also do not make art for the sake of art, but make statements with their works of art, they interfere!
Harald wrote me the following in the e-mail in the run-up to this exhibition: "In general, the thought came to me a while ago that in today's world, in which everything is controlled more and more brutally and political manipulations thus have an easy game, the expression of as "free painting" as possible is definitely a very topical instrument. (The term "informal" is well-worn...but from an art-historical point of view I can now understand it better and better...perhaps it was a similar time...one had to create free spaces at that time...now perhaps they are preserved...?)".
Jacqui also describes how life and art interpenetrate in her: "I was born in Zambia and spent most of my life in Cape Town. In Africa, expressive rhythms, colours and movements are fundamental elements of expression. I undoubtedly have these in my blood and they influence how I react to my environment. I've been living in New Zealand for over 20 years now and this has also had a significant impact on my way of thinking and worldview. Living in New Zealand, this remote island in the Pacific, is not only a matter of remoteness. It is also a place where history is young and alive and the future is immediate and visible. Every morning we see the first rays of the newly rising sun and live very closely with nature. My current work is a mixture of these cultures and gives my work an independent depth."
Before we turn our attention to the works of art, I would like to send you a brief excursion on the quality criteria of good art. On 10 June 2018 Christian Saehrendt wrote an article in the NZZ entitled "So much bad art! But how can you recognize them?
Because there is far too little agreement on the criteria for good art, it might be helpful to recognize what is NOT possible. "Most evidence of bad art results from dissonances between form and content. In order to understand this, the model of an isosceles triangle, which ideally shapes the artistic work, is a good choice. The first page: experience, experience, authenticity. The second side: imagination, creativity, inventiveness. The third side; craftsmanship, technical understanding, mastery of materials. If one side is too weak or if one side weighs more than the other two, the triangle becomes out of balance and the work becomes vulnerable. Good art combines authenticity, originality and craftsmanship," the author says.
With the words of our two artists in the background and their works of art in the foreground, we all agree that the triad of authenticity, originality and craftsmanship will be honoured in this exhibition.
Both Jacqui Colley and Harald Häuser do not compromise in their art, they do not follow fashions, they do not launch trends, but they work with great discipline and perseverance on a work that always implies the concepts of independence and freedom.
Both also allow experimentation, they both even seek the challenge of the new, and they dare to take the step towards new techniques.
Harald Häuser begins his canvases by applying water-based paint to the floor. In the course of the painting process, the painter's natural habit of seeing is extended by a deep space, which he achieves in particular through various glazes. The glaze technique is one of the main characteristics of Harald Häuser's work. The light and spontaneous application of wafer-thin layers of paint is the great secret of this painter's work, who often uses cloths as brushes to use them as extended arms. Häuser's "cloth technique" is to be understood under the term Décalcomanie, an artistic technique of colour prints or colour prints. The Décalcomanie does not aim to depict a motif, but to be an independent motif.
At the latest when we read the associative titles of his works such as "open sky, storm tide, vegetation, brain, not east, not west, not north, not south, growth, the birth of language, the continents of the seas, the secret life of water, the great shore, continental drift" etc., we realize once again that Häuser's art sees itself as a microcosm and that his work is about very elementary themes, including threatened natural spaces.
Last summer Jacqui Colley won the $20,000 Parkin Drawing Prize for her work "LONG ECHO," a two-meter-high aluminum plate on which the artist left drawings as signs, experimented with acid and various etching techniques, and even replaced pen and brush with tools. In an interview with the founder of the prize, Chris Parkin, the jury chairman Kelcy Taratoa was visibly impressed by the convincing, technical signature of LONG ECHO.
The artist says: "For this work I used a combination of traditional and contemporary etching techniques: Dry point etching, a Dremel tool, non-toxic etching methods and black pigment on a 3 m long aluminium surface".
What sounds sober impresses by its design and above all by the conceptual and innovative extension of the genre of drawing!
However, Jacqui Colley's work is not only captivating in its technical aspect, but the artist is also always interested in dealing with existential themes that concern us all: This sounds like this in her words:
"My more recent paintings and drawings bring together intangible elements and deal with altered states of nature, which have far-reaching effects and are caused by more intensive agricultural use, industrialisation and the development of land. They are meditations on this interface between the organic and the mechanized, creating a micro- and macro-level view. They are perceived simultaneously at cell level and from something like a satellite view. Some works create the feeling that a new form is emerging here; chaos that is shifting and reshaping itself in the face of realities. When you float high above it and look down on it, the Earth is a single organism; when you look at it through a magnifying glass, you see a finely tuned array of unique ecosystems. Disturbances play an essential role in shaping the structure of individual populations and the character of entire ecosystems. What concerns me most is the ecological disruption of these ecosystems and what results from it."
In a conversation with Harald Häuser we also get important background information about his work when he says: "The idea arises in the painting process...and in the awareness that colour as matter is a part of the world, ... but a visible and thus exemplary....which enables the viewer to enter new territory."
With his art, Harald Häuser wants to give us an expanding visual, mental and life impulse based on a really great subtext, namely that of tolerance. The more complex and deeper his spaces are, the greater the demand for tolerance in the picture. Tolerance within the picture, tolerance from the picture to the viewer and tolerance from the viewer to the picture.
"One paints to understand something" is one of the sentences from the mouth of the painter. The beginning of this understanding does not take place via the rational path, but via spontaneous and automatic impulses, via borrowings from the "écriture automatique" of the Surrealists.
For Harald Häuser, understanding a picture means that the energy the artist has invested in his work becomes visible and perceptible to us.
By the way, Harald Häuser wrote me the following in an e-mail on July 12: "I intend to paint a 6-part painting on canvas ... (9 x 1,5m) and then hang it in a slightly rounded room ... so à la Monet. I hope there will be something.... By the way, the picture of Jacqui on the invitation belongs to a series (4 - 5 of them are already in the castle), which she titled "nascent" on her website...thus "in the making"... or "becoming". I decided to show some very old prints from 1988.for the first time...maybe as echo to Jacquis planned experiments on aluminium."
In connection with her work, Jacqui also speaks of an intermediate state - a kind of intermediate existence or relationship between man, nature, technology, organism and ecosystem - and she says:
"In response to the digital experience, I personally have the desire to preserve the senses, to feel, touch and perceive the world around me with all my senses. For me, painting and drawing satisfies this desire in a direct way that is not possible with any other medium".
Such internals belong in the run-up to this (and by the way every) exhibition, and I didn't want to withhold them from you. Because they are such beautiful and honest thought sketches. What has become of them we see today ourselves in this wonderful dialogue between Jacqui Colley and Harald Häuser, two artists who, by the way, have met here for the first time but appreciate each other's work since a long time.
When we finally return to the Biennale again, we can read the following statement from curator Ralph Rugoff: "The most important thing about an exhibition like the Biennale is "not what it shows, but how the public can use their experiences with the exhibition to encounter everyday realities from a broader perspective with new energies. (KUNSTFORUM, vol. 261, p. 53)
Dear audience, dear guests, now it's your turn. Expand your perspective, recharge your batteries, draw new energy from an exhibition that has grown dynamically expressively and whose power can literally be felt.