Born 1977 in Vcklabruck,Austria1998 - 2003 Kunstuniversitt Linz(master class of painting)2003 graduated with BA honoursand master of art. Lives and works at Schwanenstadt,Austriawww.wolfgangdieterbauerGaleriekontakt/ Gallery contact:Galerie Barbara von Stechow Frankfurt am Main: www.galerie-von-stechow.com
Pictures in Conflict. Remarks on the Art of Wolfgang Dieter Bauer
by Dr. Tayfun Belgin
Somewhere in North Carolina is the small town Lumberton. If you click onto it in the Internet, you encounter a world that seems tailor-made for a film director like David Lynch and his uncanny film Blue Velvet. The official website displays a harmonious entry image with a one-family house and a young family whose two children run across the front yard to their parents – a little idyll. And it goes without saying that the idyll of this All-America City (as the website calls it) must not be disturbed, because here the city fathers want the “best quality of life achievable”, whatever that may mean. If this information on the Internet did not exist, one truly would have to invent it. And it is effective, even if it has little in common with what we Europeans regard as reality.
Such real and at the same time unreal images interest Wolfgang Dieter Bauer, who not only likes to send himself, but also his actors into virtual swimming pools. One of his sequences of pictures, this Lumberton, can definitely be understood as a metaphor for an artificial world. The element water plays an important role thereby, since it is also always an allusion to the transparence of this unreal-seeming world. At in the pictures in his series Luxury, water (swimming pools, motor yachts) surrounds the world of the affluent and the carefree. The participants in these pictorial worlds seem to dream away their inactive lives. So we need to ask whether they really choose their own actions or if they are merely externally determined.
The painter Wolfgang Dieter Bauer is an artist of the 21st century – without a doubt. At the computer, he processes advertising photographs he finds or takes himself; then he transfers these scenes into the conservative world of painting. His painting ability, his craft, permits him to stage selected situations like a film director who uses what he experiences and what he dreams to create coherent sequences. But no romanticism, no dreamed harmonious world can be expected from Wolfgang Dieter Bauer. He prefers a hard gesture. No soft-focus, no mildness in his depiction. Especially not in the scenes devoted to the luxurious life. The actors receive no clemency; these pictures hold up a mirror to their dismal lives. So the painter regards it as a matter of course to paint a picture titled “Sound of Silence” with a figure resembling Dustin Hoffmann basking, bored, on a motor yacht. It shares its title with the theme song of the movie Mike Nichols shot in 1967, “The Graduate”, whose social criticism refers to the life of the Establishment in the United States. Families that own several cars, homes, swimming pools, and profitable investments and whose reality is based on pure materialism.
Of course the painter – like all of us – is fascinated by the “Leading Hotels of the World”. For who wouldn’t like to trade his 3-star quarters with one of those the upper class resides in? But – and Wolfgang Dieter Bauer poses this question – what does that all have to do with my reality, my truth? Is it even worth striving for a place in this glittering Gucci world?
In his paintings, this painter gives a clear answer with the aid of a stylistic device: irony. His actors always move as if on a stage. They are seldom, or actually never, given the chance to carry out intelligent actions. That’s why they seem remote-controlled, and this is very clearly expressed especially in the series of pictures “Mystery”, “Lumberton”, “Luxury”, and “The Royal Aitutaki Lagoon Resort”. In his film “Match Point”, Woody Allen masterfully described this side of society, which is devoid of content. His insistent description refers to the best London society and its bored actors. So it is not surprising that his two protagonists, who come from families of modest means, are the real active characters. Woody Allen is no stranger to Wolfgang Dieter Bauer; on the contrary, in the series of paintings “Pistenraupen” (“Roadway Caterpillars”), the directing genius himself appears and plays a role himself.
Counter-examples to these are found in Wolfgang Dieter Bauer’s oeuvre particularly in the series “Denken ist Handeln” (“Thinking is Acting”). These are usually of two persons, one of whom gives the other instructions for action. The incompletely seen back alludes to a cinematic perspective, and the way the active figure expresses himself supports this. Located beyond irony, these paintings from the year 2004 have a more enigmatic effect than the scenes reveling in luxury. Fascination with film and its unmatchable wealth of sequences have accompanied Wolfgang Dieter Bauer’s creation of pictures so far. His paintings refer to reality on concrete and abstract levels alike. We can look forward in suspense to his work’s further development.