The base
Language has been the main matter and tool in my work for more than a decade. The written word, especially from ancient and (de-)classified sources, carries many layers of meaning and can seem shrouded in mystery. I am interested in exploring the associations and presentations of texts in order to connect with language on various levels. Over the years I have expressed this interest in different media such as audio-objects, a radio piece, a performance, drawings, prints and paintings.

Using painting as the medium of choice, my latest body of work addresses the historical connection between the media of painting and that of text, particularly passages chosen from the Bible and Plato’s The State, focusing on the resonance of these ancient documents in relation to the current political situation.

About the sources
The Old Testament of the Bible, a most important book for the Judeo-Christian -Islamic belief systems, is the main source of my recent work. Many political decisions, both historical and present-day, are made and justified based on ideas expressed in this collection of ancient literature. To many believers the Bible is considered to be exactly God’s Word and therefore unquestionably true and good in every regard. My recent work is meant to show the darker side of these sacred scripts, especially in context of the “promised land” narrative.

Plato is similarly considered an important cornerstone of Western philosophy, for his thought was intended to serve the perfection of humanity. In his work entitled The State (Politea), Plato voices – original or made up- ideas of his beloved teacher Socrates concerning the ideal state. Despite his attempt to frame the world in absolutes, he suggests that it is necessary for a leader to mask the truth under certain political conditions “for the benefit of his subjects”. In this regard Plato establishes Pre-Machiavellian principles for the rulers. More than two thousand years after writing his version of utopia, Plato’s text still makes salient points, although perhaps in a different way than originally intended.

About the medium painting
Mass media today, in particular television, produces a surplus of information presented in standardized forms in which the relationship between form and content is assumed. Such assumptions can be found throughout the history of textuality. For instance, since the adoption of common standardized typefaces, text itself, as we experience it, has also been presented and experienced in mostly standardized forms. As a kind of social agreement we have come to understand that certain fonts go well with certain content, but this is a relationship of convention rather than essence.

Painting, as my chosen medium, allows me to explore different levels of a certain text and of textuality in general. By drawing letters in a particular way, and by using certain colors, brush strokes and varying sizes of letter and canvas, I examine the relationships between the quote and its presentation. My approach differs depending on the substance of the citation as I try to bring an intellectual and emotional peculiarity to the painting that does justice to the qualities of the text and perhaps illuminates hidden, but nevertheless obvious meanings.

Hannes Priesch