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The artist Hannes Schauer appears to have found a refuge away from the predictable flow of certainty, where he can delve into the quietness of the universe and explore his own nature. In his works, chance plays a significant role, acquiring its own intelligence. The position of the canvas, painting gestures, and the act of pouring water give shape to this element of chance. Through performative acts, Schauer breathes life into his abstract paintings, creating a ceremony that connects us all to a stream of perceptions, leading us to our own visionary destinations.

When working, Schauer physically immerses himself in his artwork, moving around with a brush and a bowl of water, as if engaged in a spiritual ritual. Afterwards, he hangs the canvas on the wall to gain a different perspective, now in a vertical line, allowing the watery paint to flow down and create new appearances. Schauer captures this flow with a sponge, producing efficient patterns reminiscent of nature. His deep care for plants and animals is evident, as he reflects his interest in natural patterns that extends beyond the realm of visibility, raising questions about the mind’s connections to the world and the universe in general. His paintings portray imaginative landscapes, scenes resembling botanical gardens with artificial species or animal-like creatures, and corals nestled within. Viewers may find themselves transported to a tiny island surrounded by glowing simulated plants. Some of Schauer’s paintings invite viewers to look from within, such as a cave sheltered by a waterfall and plants, enticing us to observe closely. The eye is captivated by levitating and blossoming patterns, drawing the audience into a psychologically charged, timeless atmosphere. Undeniably, the artist offers us a respite from the time we often lack in our modern lives.

At times, his paintings feature distorted body parts that appear as if they are prepared for an autopsy. Both spontaneity and rapidity contribute to his contemplative style. Schauer never sketches before painting, as preparation would contradict his concept of creativity and disrupt his meditative state. Instead, he allows his subconsciousness to process and guide him towards vital action, which can be seen as a form of automatism - a term borrowed by the surrealists from Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. Andre Breton, in the Manifesto of Surrealism, described automatism as the “dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason and outside all moral or aesthetic concerns.”

Hannes Schauer is an artist known for his paintings that exude a sense of continual flow, teeming with the meditative energy of his expressive brushwork and vibrant colours. His abstract artworks often incorporate enigmatic forms that are unfamiliar to us. These forms, which he refers to as ghosts, may have originated from his previous period of figurative painting, where he depicted monstrous and untamed creatures with a blend of human and animal characteristics. However, in his current works, these figures appear to have melted and dissolved into a beautiful imaginary nature, taking on a kind of camouflage. One might wonder if Schauer is attempting to confront and overcome these haunting ghosts that persistently follow him. The origins of these creatures in his mind can be traced back to the influences and experiences found in Schauer’s biography.

Throughout his life, Schauer has demonstrated a deep interest in individuals on the fringes of society, as well as those who are criminals or mentally ill. He has conducted painting workshops for neuroatypical children and adolescents in schools, youth centres, and therapeutic facilities. Additionally, as a yoga teacher, he has worked with incarcerated individuals in Austrian prisons. It is plausible that his involvement with individuals facing diverse health limitations or who have been convicted may provide insights into the themes depicted in Schauer’s paintings, both in the past and the present. The camouflage effect portrayed in his artworks represents another aspect of Schauer’s personal experiences. He laments, “Growing up in a Catholic society where appearance seemed more important than what is truly going on inside had quite a severe effect on me.” By acknowledging this sentiment, he has delved into the realm of peculiarity and otherness, raising profound questions about our humanity, the boundaries of our animal instincts, and the dichotomy between good and evil, right and wrong.

Schauer’s paintings also reveal a musical sensibility. The interplay between visual and acoustic elements often plays a significant role in his artistic works. In his studio, the process of painting is frequently accompanied by a diverse range of musical genres. Through this harmonious convergence, he creates the impression of a conductor, guiding an orchestra that lies concealed beneath layers of imagery. For over two decades, Schauer has also composed electronic music, and its influence can be intuited in his artworks. The layers of diverse colours and patterns, created through a combination of paint, water, brush strokes, and sponge techniques, provide an avenue of escape into a rich and immersive environment constructed by his abstract visual language and a sense of sound. 

Text by Lina Albrikiene