Satiric revelation of Illusion…
Guido Sieber´s work!
For many spectators, Guido Sieber´s works resemble pop art, but it is absolutely far more than that. One finds similarities to expressing ideas by images that are mixed with texts and visual information based, in some cases, on cartooning and related forms of illustration marked by the comical tragedy. Sieber resorts to common methods and approaches to make his representations.
When asked about the identification scope of the subjects and characters on his paintings, Sieber reveals the core of his motives: “More important is the fact that people that I photograph on the streets never pose, it is something natural. That a lady on my painting (see bellow) carries a “Kaisers bag” ( a supermarket that existed and was known just in Berlin) is not this expressive. This lady could be with or without that “Kaisers” bag. My driving force is , as I told you, her natural being . That inspires me.These people do not try to show themselves. They are real,” Sieber said.
Especially in Guido Sieber´s latest socio political portraits, there are gestures, expressions and body languages of the subjects that are highlighted through conscious renunciation of elements surrounding, which prevent spectators from appreciating the basic being shown. “I used a neutral background to paint on. Thanks to it, one can clearly notice each gesture, body language, footwork, etc. And these are not plain representations, each picture shows a character. The fact that a person wears a t-shirt with prints on it, a hut, a shoe and the like, makes us find a character in themselves. Each detail of the subject in these pictures is important like a fleck on the pants. It is part of a character personality,” revealed Sieber.
The peculiar attraction in Sieber´s paintings brings us to draw a comparison with pop art. But it surpasses it. It is not a matter of showing pop culture, even though, as Sieber said, he grew up with the pop culture in the early 80´s, and went even further backwards in the 60´s and the 50´s, when the pop history emerged musically and optic, and this eventually influenced his whole life. “…I love pop art,” he confirms. “What I do looks like pop art, but it is not, because one does not face the homage of a product as Warhol did, for instance. He was fascinated by graphics, products and advertising, and it erupted thanks to his biography, which I understand and do not judge. I´m attracted to handwriting, scripts, etc. For me, it is, however, not a homage to a product. I see a sort of tragedy in the product itself, because the experience´s told us that we, as consumers, don´t deal with the product itself but with its packaging, with how it is presented. People get to know more about the image and the packing of a product than about the product itself,” the Berlin based painter made it clear. As matter of fact, it is a parody; it is a social political work that dates back, perhaps, to Sieber´s time working as caricaturist for Germany´s biggest newspapers and publications such as Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, Spiegel, Tipp, Zitty, Rolling Stone, Geo amongst others.
Nevertheless, Sieber felt limited in his open attitude to take artistically risk and decided to dedicate completely to painting. This relative artistic freedom has allowed him to apply technical and thematic approaches that grant diversity to art lovers. “Coincidence is something that I incorporate into my works, where nothing should be completely clear. There is no good and bad or white and black. This is a central theme of my whole work, the contradiction in everything, the nonsense, like comic in tragedy,” he explained.
However, Sieber continues, ” I change every certain time. I don´t actually understand painter that get burnt by the one theme, or style, and they follow it strictly. I´m done with the theme or issue after, let´s say, ten paintings. I need a change after that, because I would have run out of ideas. I work on series of 5 or 6 paintings. Once I finished them, then I look for something new. I wouldn´t recognise the details any longer, if I continued with the same character and theme. That is why it is really important to change the theme, motives and style to undergo different artistic procceses and move on and forward,” Sieber concluded.
From Sieber´s perspective, many of his works represent truth and lies. Breaking down his paintings into their components would culminate in the satiric revelation of illusion. Asked about his interesting painting Bauknecht (see below) where the image of Schoppenhauer catches the attention, he described it as follows: “Schoppenhauer was a philosopher. Here we have things that are related to Schoppenhauer´s life: he was vegetarian, women “lover” (therefore, we see the ironically shown “playboy” rabbit in the middle, and many other elements that had to do with Schoppenhauer´s life), but there are some others like those Asian handwritings that don´t mean anything and are lies like so many things that we find on the packaging of a product like “fat free”, “sugar free”; and the industry sells exactly what is missing inside the package. It is a contradiction to advertise something that is missing. I used all these elements to create my works,” Sieber explained. Fondly, a reader would assume for true what´s been written. There are those who state the contrary about Schoppenhauer love for women. The painter plays, perhaps, with the irony in this fact and let us believe or not in his statement by resorting to the contradiction that he once described as the inescapable being of his works.
At certain times, people tend to stay stuck due to many reasons: Artists depend most from the aceptance of their spectators and artwork lovers. There are some risks at it, though. While it is interesting to observe changes in artistc approaches, issues, themes and techniques in an artist´s career, the way and reasons why it happens turn out to be far more exciting to know.
For Sieber, those changes are automatic reactions. “If an artist is not longer challenged by the act of painting and just paints, then people will notice that the paintings are no longer that good, because the interest inside the painter is gone. For some painters, there is not another way to survive. And they better stay stuck in what they have done, instead of risking it. Sometimes, the challenge does not work. It is a real risk. For me, I need a surprise. I start a painting because I want to be surprised by its result,”
– I would say that the challenges are what drive you to work, Mr. Sieber!
“…Yes.. Risks.. always.. I don´t have a line to follow. Many painter stay stuck with a style or motives because they know what they can sell and will sell. It is a fact of handling safely. That´s not my approach,” Sieber confirmed.
Guido Sieber (55) is based in Berlin, Germany and represented by the Galerie Friedmann-Hahn (https://www.galeriefriedmann-hahn.com)
By Vincent Echenique