ABOUT BERND HAUSSMANN

RECOLLECT

Blackboard (untitled) #1442 Few artists have the courage to begin every work of art on a clean slate, with no preliminary plan whatsoever. Fewer still can do so and maintain total integrity. Bernd Haussmann faces the nothingness that is blank canvas, wood, metal, or other surfaces, and listens to his thoughts until a direction appears in his mind. Then he picks up his brush, and a subtle conversation begins. “As people get to know each other by talking,” he says, “I get to know the painting by painting it.” At a certain point, the dialog resolves itself and a work of art is revealed as a record of that process.

Haussmann builds up layers that hint at something beneath the surface. That something may be psychological, or may go even deeper and allude to eternal verities. Various forms appear, some positioned as color fields that organize the composition and some looped organically like recurring memories. Staccato blips underscore the electric chirr and crackle of contemporary consciousness that brings the work alive.

As Haussmann proceeds, the dialog is widened to include the eventual viewer. The painting becomes accessible in the sense that it furnishes suggestions and invites participation. “There is always an underlying principle that I want to share with you,” he says. “What you make of it depends on what information I put into the painting. This is important for the way I look at art or life in general. It doesn’t necessarily mean I know the truth, but I make my doubts and questions and my very strong opinions visible – almost surgically bare, if one looks closely. The more information and energy I put into the painting, the more it will resonate with the viewer. Painting, to me, is an energy exchange as well as a communication. A lot of people feel some connection when they look at my art.”

Haussmann makes no distinction between his life and his art. “I am who I am,” he says, “and that is what I paint. I live my art. Art is a lifestyle – it is what I believe, and it defines me even as I create it. What is important to me is sharing my thoughts and beliefs, and keeping an eye on the cultural and political and social environment as our earth progresses.”

The physical environment is a matter of intense concern as well. Haussmann divides his time between the Boston area and rural Maine, where he contributes to the building of a nature preserve and creates environmental sculptures. His paintings, though rigorously abstract, reflect that same dedication. They are saturated with the atmosphere of the natural world. “I want to show you the fragile environment, the intensity of connection that you experience when you go outdoors,” says Haussmann. “I hope to make people more sensitive, more aware, more critical of the world that surrounds us.” His paintings shimmer in silence while the conversation that produced them continues, communicating many shades and nuances of information to each person who pauses to interact with them.

Suzanne Deats


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