MY AUTOMATIC ME
October 6 - November 17, 2018
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition with Vienna-based painter Bernhard Buhmann. Informed by a background in Sociology, Buhmann’s hard-edged, abstracted works speak to larger issues concerning the figure in a modern-day environment and therefore, humanity, as it engages with a society that is technologically advancing at an accelerated rate. The exhibition title, My Automatic Me, suggests themes which belong to today’s world of cyborgian post-humanism, digital avatars, virtual reality and artificial intelligence but with a sense of friendliness that is either uncanny or intimate - or both. As the world advances, forcing our animal behaviors to evolve towards Buhmann’s Automatic Me, the artist examines what it means to be human in this newfangled, spectacular landscape.
From the pixelated checker board of Buhmann’s carefully rendered abstraction, figures slide into view, caught in a skipping stride or mid-twirl. Performance as an innate human behavior is major theme that interests Buhmann, exemplified by his figures’ ballet arched-feet, jester-like garb and flamboyant hats. In MisterS, Buhmann’s central figure seems to be commingled into robin-blue S-shape that further takes on the guise of a dancing bird, chest fluffed and tail feathers poking out behind in a courtship dance. Another stylish figure with custard yellow coattails, The Smoker, puffs out a white cloud from a painted face under an immense hat –gesticulating like a boulevard flaneur. Although the idea of human behavior as an endless performance can be unsettling in a selfie-obsessed era, Buhmann’s use of color and balanced compositional arrangement lean towards a celebratory tone. From a sociological standpoint – performance as a behavior creates culture by binding people together through complex forms of aesthetic communications.
Another canvas, with a crescent shape at the crossroads of two diverging bright yellow and orange stripes, is called Pacman. Upon reading the title, the crescent becomes our familiar pieshaped friend and the banded, criss-crossing layers in the background formulate the familiar blinking breadcrumb maze, or the undulating body of another 1980’s videogame hero: the growing ‘snake’ or ‘worm.’ Intriguingly enough, the resurgent popularity of the addictive ‘snake’ is in part due to its baseline inclusion in the massively popular Nokia cell phones of the 90s – which signaled a new age of device dependence. Buhmann describes Pacman as one of the first avatars, whose body we could occupy to navigate the delightful perils of the simple, dotted video game landscape. Another work titled Firebird reiterates the notion that the retro gaming was an instrumental moment that shaped and signaled our now infinitely more complex digital life. Taking this as inspiration for his colorful, banded abstractions, we can now imagine ourselves traversing through Buhmann’s winding labyrinth.
When Buhmann dives deeper into abstraction, he is again harkening back to depictions of modern humanity, but in a more conceptual sense. For instance, he expresses interest in how brain activity and thought can be calculated and examined through algorithms, a rather scientific understanding for something as mysterious as consciousness. The artist’s painterly arrangements take on similar algorithmic forms within the confines of his pictorial frame: his works are compositional solutions for age-old questions of who and what we are: a reflection of our interior, cognizant universe, our changing physical landscape and the man-made yet exponentially expanding digital one. Buhmann’s whole body of work eventually fits together to form an integrated aesthetic matrix, capturing performative remnants of a sociological body, the crux of human condition disguised as a computer game, even attempts to calculate consciousness – each work a colorful, geometric portrait of our quickly evolving selves.
Bernhard Buhmann (b. 1979 in Bregenz, Austria) lives and works in Vienna. Buhmann has a Master’s Degree in Sociology and Communication Science, from University of Vienna, Austria and studied painting at the University of Applied Arts, Austria. He has exhibited widely in Western Europe, the Middle East, and the US and is part of a number of impressive collections including: llwerke vkw Corporate Collection, Austria; MOYA: Museum of Young Art, Vienna; Farook Foundation, Dubai; SPM: Salsali Private Museum, Dubai; Strabag Kunstforum, Vienna; CCA Andratx Foundation, Spain and the Cleveland Clinic Art Collection, Abu Dhabi.