Beyond Mimesis: Stefan Kreuzer
29.01.2014 19:00h
Beyond Mimesis: Stefan Kreuzer
Fotocredits: Before We Reach Out For The Stars, 2012
[process, abstraction, chiaroscuro]: Stefan Kreuzer

The series’ second event will be an artist talk with Stefan Kreuzer, happening on January 29th, 2014. It takes place between 7:00-9:00pm at www.moe-vienna.org

Around five years ago, for the usual reasons, Stefan Kreuzer moved away from a practice of creating photo-realistic, sometimes Helnweinian paintings: Although specific aspects of the painting craft offered an immersive quality (like the creation of perfect skin or cloth gradients), a potential richness of the medium and its processes seemingly stayed untouched. Photo-realism outside of the medium of photography usually requires a particular (painting) process including compositional upfront work within the photo sources, risking the canvas’ decay into some sort of rendering fetish - omitting investigative research tendencies by focusing on specialization instead.

Seeing photo-realism this way makes it easy to criticize it as a fetish of painting craft that leaves the medium’s potential uncharted. Painting as an ‘after-thought’, as a tool to reach another medium’s ontological origin; painting as means of ‘defense’ (perfection of process as stasis?), maybe even ‘painting as misunderstanding’ (painting becoming the translation target of another medium’s findings)? One can imagine the painter finding him- or herself caught up in a narrow, limiting process defined by the comfortable having become the source of discomfort.

This situation has been cleared up: When you enter Kreuzer’s studio now, in the early days of 2014, amongst other finds you will see a fishing rod leaning in a corner: with a brush attached to it. On the wall next to it a painting whose strokes are more high-frequent, more staccato then those of the other hung pieces. Basically, the painting was created by aimlessly waving the fishing rod at the canvas, over days, whenever boredom set in. It’s a good metaphor maybe, the fishing rod: instead of anachronistically carving an object out of some material, you carelessly explore the canvas, fishing. Since you won’t find anything by waiting anyway, you begin waving the rod around, potentially annoyed, maybe amused, ultimately probably just doing the movements, lethargically maybe, transfixed by the post-modernity of our time.

Kreuzer’s understanding of the topos of control (originally required for rendering a photo source) has apparently been inversed over time: Sometimes he envisions the complexity of a brush stroke before its execution, meditating the proper arm/hand movement(s). The subsequent action results in a sort of controlled chaos - the immersion seems to come from both the meditation before andafter the event (the brush stroke), an in situ reconnaissance with the latent painting. Attitudes like this are the major defining parameter of Kreuzer’s oeuvre, creating a looseness that becomes the source of its strength.

Another characterizing aspect of Kreuzer’s work seems to be his exchange of highly saturated abstraction ciphers against more atmospheric color fields, or better: desaturated fog fields. Philip Guston meeting Cy Twombly on a rainy day, in a universe bereft of 75% of its saturation. Yet other than Twombly, Kreuzer doesn’t write on the canvas: he draws. More than everything, his brush strokes are direct, unhidden gestures whose frozen movement can still be felt when watching the finished pieces.

Kreuzer seems a painter of light - his desaturated settings usually set the stage for a play of colors whose strength seems to come more from their stage then from themselves. His work is the perfect example of paintings being more than the sum of their parts - they are enjoyable exactly because they seem to validate themselves so perfectly, so reassuringly, in spite of their multitudinousness. There’s a subconscious trial and error process that apparently ignores the idea of errors, resulting in a mastery of chaos that can’t be found by exerting control. His paintings are loose yet strict, and therefore open and joyful. They each have a gravity that seems a worthwhile addition to the canon of gravities that continuously shapes the history of painting - leaving the creation of alternate Helnwein universes to others.
Thelemangasse 4/1
1170 ,Wien (Österreich)