Solo exhibition: “Trauma” at Museum Angerlehner (Thalheim bei Wels)

“Trauma” is my twentieth solo exhibition since 2010, and marks my first solo exhibition at a museum: at Museum Angerlehner. The show was curated by Günther Oberhollenzer, and runs from May 9th to August 29, 2021.

The exhibition shows works from 2008-2021, focusing on individuals and their trauma recovery. The works cast a wide, dim circle around topics of consciousness: from dream interpretation to psychoanalysis, from individual to social and political dynamics. They repeatedly focus on psychological symptoms of psychotrauma: body dissociation, depersonalization, amnesia, fatigue, compulsions, etc.

Such symptoms cannot be clearly depicted apart from clichés, because they do not offer clear images: the truth of a person is not merely revealed by their surface. Therefore, many of my works appear to be everyday illustrations: someone is sleeping, pottering, planting, fishing; the images do not articulate the reason for these actions, or whether they are done consciously or subconsciously – but they often appear symbolically charged.

The sitter’s introspective gaze indicates an inner communication to which we viewers cannot listen. In this respect, viewers are always excluded from certain aspects and dynamics of the images – like trauma victims, who can be denied clear access to their own bodies, memories, emotions, etc. due to dissociation.

All exhibition photos (c) Simon Veres

Here is a short reel showing a walk through the exhibition (Instagram).

About the space..

This exhibition happens in Museum Angerlehner’s two gallery rooms, covering about 400m² (1300ft²). It’s quite a bit of space and opportunity — curating this with Günther Oberhollenzer was both exciting and enlightening.

The two exhibition rooms are idenically spaced, and connected through a sort of “bridge”; when seen from above, they resemble brain hemispheres, or the lobes of a lung — or a butterfly’s wings. These concepts mapped perfectly with the topic of trauma recovery: the way trauma influences (and modifies) the brain; breathing as strategy to calm the autonomic nervous system; the butterfly as symbol for life’s randomness.

The exhibition itself doesn’t highlight these topics explicitly — instead, they co-create an atmosphere which offers emotional opportunities.

“The immediate encounter with works that at first sight do not satisfy any sensationalism, and in many cases do not use the usual visual language of pain, expands the idea that we associate with the rupture. Despite their spatial weight, the works often depict moments far removed from tragedy. It is as if the silence between the lines has been held under a magnifying glass. What becomes visible are not the bold headlines, the hand-wringing cries for help, or even forms of violence.”

Jaqueline Scheiber
“Trauma”

Salon #1, Untitled Projects (2021)

SALON#1 at Untitled Projects shows new works by Christian Bazant-Hegemark, through which he further consolidates his figurative approach. Digital glitches and errors in image editing are fundamental in the conception of the presented pencil drawings and oil paintings. The series includes portraits and interrogations of political situations through which Bazant-Hegemark enhances his involvement with people’s trauma processing.

The displayed works do not depict trauma as such, as it is not physically visible for the viewer, but can rather be experienced on an emotional level. The artist thematizes and reflects on the dynamic of traumatized people, who often lack knowledge about their own condition for a long period of time. The works recurringly focus on the psychological symptoms of traumatized people: body dissociation, depersonalisation, amnesia, fatigue and psychological coercions. These symptoms are, apart from clichés, not directly depictable as they do not offer clear images: one’s emotional situation does not show on his surface only.

Consequently, the exhibited works – detached from everything else – seem like everyday sceneries illustrated: people sleeping, pottering, gardening, glancing; the works do not articulate the reason for these actions. The introspective look of the persons depicted refers to an internal communication, which we as spectators can never be a part of. It is not intended for us. In this sense we as the observer are always excluded from certain aspects and dynamics of an image – like trauma victims, who may lack a clear approach to their own body, recognitions, emotions etc. as a consequence of dissociations.

“Kindness of Strangers” video

I created this video about the works of the Kindness of Strangers – series from 2019.

I stopped taking meds two years ago. I didn’t anticipate the new depth of feelings I encountered once everything wore off — and neither did I anticipate feeling seasick for half a year, as a result of stopping the meds from one day to the next.

I made this series of paintings and drawings while seasick — focusing on leaves. I didn’t understand why, but in the great way of Daniel Pitín, I didn’t need to know: I wanted to open a gate. Premature understanding could only limit this.

When the works were finally exhibited (first at Galerie Voss/Dusseldorf then at Reiners Contemporary/Marbella), I understood that I benefitted the most from interpreting them psychoanalytically: by considering Freud’s displacement and condensation (“verdichten und verschieben”).

These were works about the notion of leaving, about having been left, about the joys and sorrows and uncertainties of someone leaving. You can leave home, a family, your life.

I recorded the footage for this back in 2018, forgot about it, and then found it randomly last week (it doesn’t feature all the works of this series). The music is an improvisation over a track I recorded last summer on the the Octatrack — enjoy. 🙏

Solo exhibition: inseparable, unttld contemporary (Vienna)

I’ll have my first solo at unttld contemporary/Vienna. It’s a new collaboration that only started this year, so I’m super excited about it. 

The show focuses on codependencies, and is centered around a video work on Linda Sharrock and Mario Rechtern (details here): “Linda Sharrock’s 2009 stroke didn’t keep her still long: together with Mario Rechtern and a changing guard of collaborators, she’s been touring incessantly. Bound to her wheelchair, relying on words spoken by others. Beyond the plate, beyond the word.
 
  • Exhibition Opening: June 27th, 7pm
    Duration: all summer long, free ice cream for those reading this
    Address: Schleifmühlgasse 5

Solo exhibition: Folds, Bildraum 07 (Vienna)

This is a show about abandonment, as witnessed by each of us everyday: in people that grow, in objects that stay — and in the folds and creases left with us along the way.

The series consists of a series of ink drawings, but the show is actually centered around a video work. It’s the first time I’m exhibition a time-based piece, and in this case it’s used to bring together my portrait and interview interests — yet blends them with generative abstraction algorithms. The software I wrote for this has been in use for my drawing practice for a long while now, and was expanded to handle video footage.

Solo exhibition: Kindness of Strangers, Galerie Voss (Düsseldorf)

“Kindness of Strangers” was my fourth solo exhibition at Galerie Voss. It opened on June 7th 2019.

The exhibition features works created after I finished my second series of psychotherapy sessions. The pieces have the wide-ranging, meandering ambiguities known from my previous work — which are also uniquely known to those trying to interpret dreams, Freudian slips or other co-conscious actions. The exhibited paintings aim to emulate rather than depict such subconscious plots: throughout the last years, I continuously suggested psychoanalytical, and thus highly individualized readings of my works. With paintings being inherently post- and preverbal, they seemed a perfect medium for a series on ambiguities and personal interpretations.

The exhibited works repeat and permute a small set of symbols: leaves, origami objects, upside-down figures, closed eyes, roots – with verbal languages offering obvious clues to their potential meanings. The exhibition title refers to the idea of strangers: those encountered in the world, as well as those found within each of us – and the benevolence of human subconsciouses, towards each other and ourselves.

  • Exhibition Opening: June 7th, 7-9:30pm
    Duration: June 8th – July 13th
    Address: Mühlengasse 3, Düsseldorf

Thomas Wolfgang Kuhn wrote a text about the exhibition, which you can read here.

‘[…] Christian Bazant-Hegemark’s art is a plea for active engagement that also makes the “laissez faire” apparent. Perhaps the fusion of the digital and the analogue is a hybrid, just like the combination of external reality and inner vision, although here it appears to be fruitful and fearless.’

“Considering the Circular Topology of Clouds” at Hollerei Galerie (2017)

This was my first solo exhibition at Hollerei Galerie (Vienna). The works depicted heavy political and societal events, to investigate how traditional painting topics operate when referencing the contemporary world of media –, and when they appropriate its formal codes.

Being unsatisfied with the possibilities of digital image editing, Bazant-Hegemark developed his own image abstraction software (enabling unusual fragmentarizations and transformations, and the calculation of a virtual third dimension from 2d images). The results are an integral part of his current image conception. Apart from these algorithmic image modifications, Bazant-Hegemark started to digitize images manually (“pixeling”), strongly referencing 1990s video game aesthetics, and resulting in the works’ surreal spin.

The exhibition focuses on works that transform iconic contemporary images in this multifold way (oftentimes depictions of suffering, morally “authorized” by media awards): photojournalistic sources get pixeled manually, abstracted algorithmically, edited in standard image editing software, printed on fabric and opened up to a traditional oil painting process. This way, the final images flirt with the surface’s alleged beauty; they are aestehtically charged, which quickly becomes unbearable considering the works’ actual depictions.

In this series, Bazant-Hegemark operates in an expanded contemporary painting mode, caring about understanding the capacity of visual media to depict and express. Today’s post-factual media lost its authenticity – having exchanged it with self-referential journalistic networks, for which images only matters as surface: as effect and commodity. There is no more relying on an image’s accuracy: in media, reality and fiction lost their distance. As a result, contemporary mimetic painting is in an unkown situation: it can create, simulate and appropriate, but can only imagine actual authenticity in depicting things happen outside of painting.

“The Rise and Fall of Transformative Hopes and Expectations” at Galerie Voss (2016)

I wrote the following to document my thoughts about this work series:

My work generally blends traditional figuration with an abstraction that time and again references computer graphic stereotypes: theatrical scenes populated with interpersonal agendas, focusing a loose triple dynamic of identities, places and actions – with uncertainty being their potentially distinctive, uniting feature. To strengthen their political subtextual leanings, some pieces reference highly specific contemporary documentary photography (e.g. Uncertainty Principle depicting Lamon Reccord, or The Drizzle depicting Sergey Ponomarev’s award-winning refugee photo). The paintings care to reflect our human conditions’ ambiguities, and can be understood as fragmentary statements towards an infinite, holistic, multi-narrativistic rhizome: offering views on society and culture in general, and the layers upon layers of individual fears and hopes discoverable within.

By touching the transient nature of topics like identity, gender, memory, emotion, motivation, etc., the works focus the ever-changing undercurrents of societal contracts, as well as the vast spaces in between those clearly defined hegemonic states. Transformation, transition, transference, transgression: How does painting (for entities living within the specifics of legislature) relate to the humanistic experiences of societies based on limitations and freedoms? How do individuals operate when finding themselves in situations beyond clearly understandable dynamics of cause and effect? What consequences emerge for western minds, whose identifying agendas (studying, remembering, producing) are gradually taken over by monotheistic algorithms? The presented works are the result of a process investigating the creation of paintings; sidestepping didactics, aiming for a specific emotionality to facilitate a state defined by an equilibrium of emotion and intellect: painting as emotionally coherent space.

Ultimately, this reflects my interest in ontological, media-based inquiries regarding the state of figurative painting within postmodern canons: the state of mimetic painting strategies in general, and more specifically regarding its post-symbolist use in mapping indefinable, infinite characteristics; how a “poetics of paint” influences its mapping abilities; how painting can be made a proper tool to discuss politics and societies, when its native ability seems so much more suitable to documenting its own phenomena (drippings, flowing, splashes etc. – the physical attributes of oil paint); how abstraction is modified when the aforementioned phenomena are augmented by highly detailed figuration, or other narrative mechanics: These physical attributes make painting seem uniquely suitable to map volatile, ambiguous and indefinable characteristics.

 

Vow of Silence, Solo Exhibition at Galerie Voss (Düsseldorf)

The works of the Austrian artist Christian Bazant-Hegemark deal with the combination of narrative painting and abstraction.

The paradoxical balance of presence and absence, of formulation and creation and of suggestion and meaning is present in all his works. The artist creates an attractive strife. It is challenging to interpret his work, because the viewer is often confused by the change of surface perception. The interplay between the figurative and the abstract may not be limited to one interpretation. Like the work “Your Thick Elephantine Yet So Delicately penetrable Skin” (2011), depicting a girl on a swing. The swing is fitted with a geometrically patterned background and is therefore connected with a surreal element.

Thus the fragmentary starts a communication with the narrative points and a complex dialogue develops. Nothing will be spoken. The figuration monopoly must not oppose the ideas of abstraction. The picture elements appear in fragmentary moments, which can avoid the provability of possible interpretations because they have nothing to prove. The images remain in an uncertain familiarity that seems to have no place. The composition occurs here as a measuring system, pushing whether neither the appropriateness of narrative nor the indulgence of abstraction in the foreground. What we encounter in the works of Christian Bazant-Hegemark, is the floating posture of the fragmentary: the vacuum of groundlessness.

(Link)