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Michael Bauer
January 27 – March 11, 2017

If chaos is the mother of chance it is also the father of infinite order…..
it is the abyss to jump into,
The ladder without rungs,
The dream of the final dissolution
Or is it in fact….as inconceivable as eternity?

But whatever it might be we have to face it
and come to terms with it ….
Swing with it – incorporate it – be it !……
there is no chaos, if we are part of it.

— Hans Richter

We should think about attitude.

Looking is your job, take this opportunity to spend time looking, I can’t tell you what to see – between order and chaos, between form and abstraction – and on another level: between rebellion and defeat. The hierarchies of human to animal to vegetable to mineral are flattened…

Finger. Fingers. Eyes and fingers.

I’m hunting for the epicentre, the point from which all action occurs, a sort of beginning and end.
Sometimes the clouds of paint disperse and escape the edge, disappearing.
Today, now, the centre of activity seems to hover just in front of the paintings, possessed by an urgency and rigour to build, layer on layer, to fiddle and tweak.

These paintings demand time.

I tried to write a very short narrative. Something about a long dark corridor leading up stairs and through many doors. I pictured the computer game Doom, with a repetition of interior corridor space. Eventually you would end up in a room, an artist’s studio and on the far wall a blank canvas. I like the idea of painting at a literal dead end. In my story the artist paints a door with a handle, opens it and steps through, they find themselves back in the long dark corridor, a sort of feedback loop. I couldn’t really get it to work.

Next, I buzz around, I’m thinking about conditions, about rules.

I find myself talking almost too much about the rules of painting, the limits which the artist places on the activity. the dead ends, the new handles…….

These paintings demand time.

I’ve thought up a new painting word: ‘Ontoptimism’ a hopefulness and confidence in the success of an artwork through continued painterly build up. Could this be useful?

Sometimes paint slides across a surface, but in these there is a rawness that creates resistance. Paint on this surface needs pushing and stabbing as it soaks and spreads.

Recently I was talking to a student about how a painting is a personal world in which anything can happen, I think I even referred to the artist’s position as ‘God’. It makes me uncomfortable to write this down, but I was motivated by motivation, to squeeze action out of procrastination.
Michael’s work transcends the ‘Great chain of being’. He is loop gain, he is part of the chaos, a tug of war between control and mayhem.

I’ll be honest, Michael fits the category of painters I envy, painters who have set themselves the infinite problem of painting. A small tweak and the work rebounds in a subtle new direction.

I remain ontoptimistic.

— Charlie Hammond, 2017

Michael Bauer (b. 1973, Erkelenz, Germany) studied at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Braunschweig. Notable exhibitions include Men in Pain (Pool Party) at Norma Mangione (2016); Michael Bauer: Butter Bebop (Transatlantic Creme Dreams), Alison Jacques Gallery, London (2015); Creme Wars – Snoopie, Lisa Cooley Gallery, New York (2014); Slow Future – H.S.O.P. – Opus, Alison Jacques Gallery, London (2013); K-Hole (Frogs), Villa Merkel, Esslingen am Neckar (2011); Marquis Dance Hall, Istanbul (2010); Anthem, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (2009); and Kunstverein Bonn, Bonn (2007). Bauer is the subject of a substantial JRP Ringier monograph published in 2008, entitled Borwasser, and with a lead essay by Jennifer Higgie and an interview with Stefanie Popp. Bauer’s work is part of the Saatchi Collection, London and the Zabludowicz Collection, London. The artist lives and works in New York.