Köpfe, Fratzen, Faxen
28 September – 20 November 2021
Daniel Schlier in conversation with painter Michael Anders
Michael Anders: Despite the eclecticism of your painting – whether reverse glass painting, works on marble, on canvas – there is a common thread running through your work. Heads or grimaces appear regularly. Actually, they resemble, glimpsed, rather distorted images, not in the sense of a caricature, but really distorted images, deformed, bent heads. As if mankind were monstrous. You’re painting an image of humanity that seems rather bizarre, but naturally this perspective has a certain tradition in painting, from folkloric masks the world over, countless sculptures from the ancient world, or carnivals and Fasnacht in Germany, portraits from Rembrandt to Picasso, Nolde, Klee, and many others. I could call up many other associations, but I would like to ask you to describe this common thread of your work in more detail: Are they portraits or types? Do you have an idea, a plan in mind as you begin to work? Or does the painting build up like a wall, stone by stone? A mystery… Whereby, what also appeals to me about it, is that it is basically not about abstract figures, time and again you recognize an eye, a mouth, painted quite accurately, and even if you do not actually know the models personally, you can feel that there is an entity.
The works have little in common with, for example, Francis Bacon, cinematographic, or Picasso, architectural, cubist. I have the feeling your heads confront their own matter, you paint a skin, a skin painted with colors, not realism. Like an organism that has the ability to self-generate. Could you enlighten us about your approach?
Daniel Schlier: Gladly, that’s quite a long and substantial question… (laughing) and the comparison you dare to make is demanding, but… comparaison n’est pas raison is what they say in French (A comparison is not an explanation)! One can debate endlessly about the formal sources of the artists – whether autobiography, culture – skillful, or studied. I am more interested in the effect of the images, how they act in the mind of the viewer. How the pictures are made, how they are created, from which source they spring, is of course of great importance, but remains additional information. In which way pictures can act, that I find overwhelming. And that is the essential subject of the works. Sailors have used the compass for centuries, possibly without being able to explain factually, scientifically, how it works. But it worked…
I have the impression to be in the same situation. I paint pictures of which I believe that they must be that way – how they are created is a separate question…. Painting for me is an exercise in freedom.
Excerpt from a conversation between Michael Anders and Daniel Schlier, recorded in summer 2015
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