I was asked to talk about art and life, with Emily Tolman. The conversation has been published on Spotify and YouTube.
From the show notes: “Meet Christian Bazant-Hegemark, a painter, game developer, lecturer and more. On this episode of TIP, we talk about some of the flaws of art school. What it teaches us and how that differs from what we actually need to be taught in order to navigate the art world. We talk about schedules, being your own manager, networking and much more. Stick till the end to get some TIPs for artists!“
An excerpt from around 29:00: “I’m not sure whether I can think of a ‘biggest’ frustration (about the art market) right away — but I think maybe one challenge is that .. people start making art for very idealistic or maybe also egoistic reasons. It’s about expressing yourself, learning a complex language or craft; I don’t think that many people start making art because they want to make money.
So then you develop your competencies and you get better at what you do — and it often feels very linear: you get better you get better. And you also understand more about art history, because you also dive into it, you want to understand the system that you are in; and then you understand that what you do cannot so easily be a linear story, because others pursue entirely different stories or aesthetics or contexts.
And so already this shows each of us who make art, that this can be a very complex and long journey. And none of this is related to economic aspects. It’s really just this very beautiful, or maybe very overwhelming, approach to living a life.
And then, all of a sudden, this doesn’t work. Because of course you need some means to live a life, economically. I don’t know why the ideal very often is to make art full time, because that would mean.. already from the word, it sounds like a full time job; but of course in a full time employment situation you automatically get money — the only thing you need to do is to show up, and not mess things up. And with art, you can show up, and make amazing work, and you don’t get a single Euro or Dollar or anything. What does this mean?“
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“Kunst und Schnittlauch” is a weekly happening at Kunsthandel Giese und Schweiger (Vienna). Apart from bread with chive, you get various cocktails plus a live conversation about the week’s art happenings — usually between Alexander Giese and Christof Habres.
Now on May 27th, I’ll take Christof’s seat, and talk with Alexander about NFTs, his upcoming public conversation with Johann König at the ORF Radiokulturhaus, etc.
Join us between 3-8pm — it’s free, with food and drinks! Our conversation happens at 4pm, and is streamed via Instagram live here.
In 2020 I started JOMO – Joy of Missing Out together with Julia Bugram and Paula Marschalek. We do monthly public conversation with experts of the fine arts field, with a focus on topics that aren’t often discussed: why coaching can help artists, how to set up an art fair, how to establish a life long art practice, etc.
I got to hold two presentations, and offered two solo art coaching sessions with each of the six residents. It was a really intense month.
“Chris’ work focuses on the individual. Ranging from intimate portraits to theatrical compositions, a recurring theme is how one singular person interacts with the world – which might as well begin in their own mind. The people in Bazant-Hegemark’s works are mostly on their own: they sit and ponder, they wonder, they stare into their phones, they stay inactive while the world burns. There’s apathy and yet also empathy, which shines through his care for rendering people; with oil, ink or pencil – from detail to detail.”
“I’ve always been curious about how each of us interprets the world; what processes operate consciously, but also pre- or subconsciously. These kinds of questions were why psychoanalysis eventually became important to me. Psychoanalytic therapy makes you more sensitive to the words you use, and what specific meanings they might have for you. This made me more mindful about etymology, but also about phonetic similarity between words. If you slur “couple beer” in German (“ein paar Bier”), it can sound very similar to “paper” (“Papier”). This kind of displacement can happen subconsciously in dreams, and depends on your personal use of language; not everyone would see these examples as sounding similar. This can aid you in interpreting your dreams, but obviously also makes you wonder why you choose certain topics for your artworks. I began interpreting my urge to paint “leaves” as a subconscious focus on leaving. The German word “Blatt” translates to both “leaf” and “sheet”; since I made multiple artworks on Origami constructions over the years, I was wondering whether, through various indirections, my focus on Origami constructions might be connected to my focus on leaves – because in my native language, they share the same word. If so, are these Origami pieces semantically about paper and folding? Or are they pieces about the fear of being left?
Browsing through Christian’s work, one find themself taking in layers and layers of emotion, processing them as both an introspection and a glimpse into the thoughts and focus of figure, texture, color, the building blocks of a work. The themes and subject of the drawings and paintings are shown through visual storytelling, a narrative for the viewer to follow to digest situations, events, and ideals as seen through the marks of the maker expertly laced into each piece.
During the Corona lockdown in 2020, Markus Greussing produced a feature titled “Waiting – A Forgotten Art” for Austria’s national television (ORF).
The idea was to feature several individuals and their thoughts on the lockdown — but with the lockdown ending quicker than expected, a ninety minute show was cut down to 10 minutes.
The cut-down feature was published on May 25th 2020, and included some of my work and thoughts:
In 2015 I was asked by Vienna’s tourism agency whether I’d be up to show some of the cities’ highlights for a video they’d produce.
We spent two days together to create the following video, which has been watched over 80k times. Enjoy!
The following interview was published on February 24th, 2011 by Gabriela Kisová of Krokus Galeria (Bratislava), where I had an exhibition at the time.
Gabriela Kisová (GK): Before studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, you were programming video games. Painting is the classical static medium – do you miss any kind of “action”?
Christian Bazant-Hegemark (CBH): The whole idea of starting to paint was to get away from an undo-based, kind of inconsequential routine that dictated my professional programming life. I grew tired of it. It started to annoy me. Obviously, the “action” that you mention is what enters your life exactly when there is consequence. So to me, the traditional media are something I explicitly chose for some of its basic attributes – not being able to work in versions/branches, not being able to step back when you messed something up, and then also, because I cared for a medium that very much allowed me to work alone, to create the whole ‘vision’ by myself – not to work in a team; but this of course leads to a whole different set of problems…
GK: You paint and draw. Do you consider your drawings to be preparations for the paintings?
CBH: I rarely consider drawings to be sketches. I tend to work on a piece until there’s the feeling that it’s strong enough to stand by itself – so even if drawings are made to better understand the problems of a painting, usually i want the drawing to have some kind of inner life, to be able to not only coexist. But for a year now all energy went into painting, because its innate attributes somehow can’t be approached or understood when working in other media. Also, instead of drawing, for the last couple paintings the preparations were more done by writing things down, verbally – not by drawing.
GK: One can often see prior drafts in your finished work – for example when you don’t get a figure’s hand right, you draw on top of it, but don’t erase the initial strokes. Do you like to show mistakes?
CBH: So of course: There are no mistakes. The idea to show prior ‘versions’ of a piece appeared because I liked to emphasize that the finished piece really is nothing more then the result of a certain set of decisions: other’s could have been made. Then also some people see these thin lines as auras – I like this emphasis.
But in general i guess i simply like the idea of opening up the process, to let the viewer get a glimpse of understanding of the route that led to a finished piece.
GK: How’s your relationship to color? Do you use color intuitively or programmatically?
CBH: I don’t get color. My relationship to it is broken somehow. I think my strongest work uses only black, or a rather monochromatic palette with an additional ochre and umber. But at one point I decided to open up the palette, to investigate it, in a very unscientific way – and I’m still stuck there – at the moment I use colors all over the canvas, even the primer is peppered with pigments.
Maybe it’s a defense strategy, to divert from the works real problems. Maybe color is diversion.
GK: A traditional question: What are your sources of inspiration?
CBH: I don’t really deal with inspiration; there’s a life outside the studio, where lots of things happen that need to be processed, and then there’s another life in the studio, where the processing leads to a certain form. The themes that occupy me most are the daily grind, and thoughts about how relationships between humans work – so maybe we could say that these topics are what drive my work.
GK: What are you working on at the moment?
CBH: I started working on a group of large-scale paintings last autumn, and finished one so far – trying to get away from a certain formalism i used in the past, and aiming to fabricate a new one that feels more adequate to the problems at hand. I try to think more about paint, and less about painting. The canvases are loosely based on ideas about relationships, and try to create a kind of Lynchean atmosphere.