Caroline Bachmann and Stefan Banz

Caroline Bachmann and Stefan Banz

Work from their oeuvre.

“Let’s imagine a situation that everyone familiar with the art scene regularly sees or personally experiences: the puzzled expression on the face of a viewer when looking at a painting, his/her eyes surreptitiously shifting from the artwork to the blank wall, in search of a label with captions, or maybe even a salving explanation, as if those spare words could supply a hasty rescue from an awkward declaration, whether public or private: “I do not understand.”

If this is the case when viewing Stefan Banz and Caroline Bach- mann’s joint works, their titles could provide you with tentative guidelines, or mislead you even more, since they are conceived just as a note, a written record of the attitude and the feelings of the artists in relation to the painted image. Often cunning quotes drawn from the most varied sources such as literature, cinema, music, art, news, daily life, to name a few, the titles (e.g.Toteninsel from the homonymous series of the five works by Arnold Böcklin, or Man Of God, from the name of a song by Neil Diamond) serve as keys to the varied and multi-layered visual references intrinsic to the paintings, which are built on both emotional and theoretical bases. Each work by Bachmann and Banz implies a stratified ensemble of stories having multiple and unfixed meanings open to further personal interpretations by the viewer. Sometimes funny and ironic, sometimes more serious or disquieting, Bachmann/Banz’s stories dig into reality, history, culture, personal and collective memory, by taking back to the present a collection of politicians, movie and rock stars, criminals, writers, directors, artists, as well as landscapes and friends. Those half-forgotten experiences and questionable, mystifying events common to many who have the same socio-po- litical and historical background as Bachmann and Banz — both Northern Europeans coming of age in the 1960s — are recalled and identified through recognizable symbols. Once combined in an un- expected pictorial and conceptual context, these signs engender a distortion of the predetermined visual memory, baffle the acknowl-dged understanding of some specific facts, personalities, or of life in general, and prod new associative and critical approaches. “A painting never says the truth,” comments Banz sardonically, and Bachmann adds “in our works the most important thing is not the image itself, but the topic we choose: most of our paintings are based on misunderstanding.” – Excerpt from Suddenly an Image by Nataline Colonnello.

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