TATA! FALLING GOOD
In collaboration with Sies + Höke
Andi Fischer's paintings are colourful, excited scribbles. They seem cheerful, like children's drawings, spontaneously created – but only at first glance. His works on canvas and paper, expressive in their imperfect gesture, lead through their pictorial narratives into worlds that are utopian but somehow familiar.
This exhibition takes the apocalypse as its theme. Because in these times – as at all times – people are confronted with imminent dangers and enormous, almost inescapable adversity, this topos has existed for all time and is still current. Wars, climate change or pandemics – these major themes are not explicitly depicted in Fischer's work; in his new paintings in this exhibition, they are represented by ravens, the legendary harbingers of misfortune.
Andi Fischer's investigation of the phenomenon remains subtle. Seemingly quite innocuous, the birds on three medium-sized canvases O NAH GENAU PICK, O NAH GENAU PICK AGAIN and O TWO NAH GENAU PICK AGAIN (2023) extend into the picture from above with their heads and beaks. One lies in the lower half of the picture, which is filled with red fruits and a landscape that offers everything in the narrow space: grey mountains, blue waters and green vegetation. However, it remains unclear whether the birds are observing the world, whether they are lurking or whether they are merely aiming at the fruit.
The large-format paintings STÜRZENDE BEGEBENHEIT 1 and 2 and Seems ENDE NAHT again (2023) are incomparably more dramatic. Here, the ravens plunge from top to bottom into the void, or, that is also conceivable, they are in free fall. In each case, only the black bird and the white canvas below it, that is what Fischer depicts here – no landscape, no other beings. The reduction concentrates the drama: this is obviously no longer just the premonition, this is already the misfortune.
The ravens, however, each on its own canvas, visibly drawn quickly and for the most part painted with impasto oil stick strokes, are not only the messengers. At the same time, there are also the protagonists of this perhaps eschatological, in any case enigmatic scene. Fischer embroils the events in a narrative grotesque in which the black birds evoke or reveal conflicts not only symbolically but pictorially. The cheerfulness of the otherwise luminous colours and the impulsive style are condensed into a sombre overall picture, without completely losing the joyful light-heartedness.
Fischer paints with oil sticks, and he paints rapidly. His figures are outlined and painted in rough strokes, not always completely. The colours, which is a characteristic of these sticks, can only be applied next to each other, not on top of each other, and they do not mix. But it is not only for practical reasons that many empty spaces remain on canvas and paper. Andi Fischer knows how to create free spaces by omitting, by not completing the drawing, which gives each picture just as much freedom as he takes himself as an artist in conceiving of his images.
Fischer's paintings are not reminiscent of early childhood drawings because he tried to imitate this style; rather, he uses it. Sometimes his works are described as faux-naïf, and in fact the naïveté, the awkwardness is deliberate. The composition of the picture, the depiction of spatiality and the skillfully evoked way of looking reveal, however, a fundamental understanding of composition and knowledge of art-historical pictorial vocabulary. By consciously not applying traditional and common doctrines of harmony and proportion, Fischer opens up a new view of art for himself and the viewer that is disarmingly authentic.
References to art history are essential to Fischer's work, even beyond Art Brut or the automatism of Surrealism. Earlier paintings and series of works refer, for example, to Lukas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) or to Rubens (1577–1649). The woodcuts from the Revelation of John by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), whom Fischer studied particularly intensively and incorporated into his own work, are the starting point and initial spark for his exploration of the visualisation of the Apocalypse shown here. He does not adapt his historical sources of inspiration, he does not negate them, but he encounters them through his own interpretation and his radical pictorial language.
All this is far more than a gimmick. For it is particularly through the simplicity of the form in interaction with the expressive gesture and the coded motifs that Fischer's works gain their depth of content. We see excerpts of self-designed worlds, whose complexity leads through irony, the joy of the absurd, to known and unimagined abysses. Ultimately, it is the direct, immediate visual expression that gives his depictions the power of cheerful but stirring poetry.