Um Kopf und Kragen – (2012)
With 15 basic modules – interchangeable canvases loosely based on the Lego or Memory principle – Thomas Bauer creates an adjustable series of images. As many as 100 variations are possible, depending on whether he combines two-, three- or even tenfold series. Each canvas is carefully composed to guarantee that the combination of the base module with others results in a completely new image with its own interpretation. Art has never seen such flexibility, an unrestricted narration in a non-linear dramaturgy, offering the chance to jump from one idea to another, open to association, without drifting into arbitrariness. Bauer knows which motives to combine – those catching his eye: dynamic urban motives from the internet, faces, fragments of animals and other figures. He does not paint fixed ideas, but rather a multimedia mixture of styles and motifs, loosely assembled from the market of postmodern possibilities. The same liberty can be seen in his painting style: expressive, graphically linear, plastic and cubic – it always depends on how the architectural design complies with machinery, serpent heads or anthropomorphous shapes. Medusas of Greek mythology appear, as do manga and European painting. The result is by no means contradictory, but rather an exciting combination of elements taken from a giant pool of dynamic ideas.
In the world of economy, the principle of flexibility has long been established. Aiming at efficiency and maximizing profit as quickly as possible here, Bauer's art turns that idea upside down; with each new combination of modules, the process of painting is slowed, as the composition needs to be elaborated and well thought-out. Otherwise, it leads to a conceptual deadlock and the adjustable image drifts into pointlessness..
Text: Christiane Dressler, www.ruhrkunst.com, @2012