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The paintings of Bernhard Buhmann (b. Bregenz, Austria, 1979; lives and works in Vienna) are sprites of our times: sensitive mirrors reflecting the stages of everyday life. What unites the works from different phases in the artist’s evolution surveyed by this monograph (2006–2015) is his inquiry into the (re)construction of identity and the theatrical processes this quest involves. Selfdiscovery and loss of self, the intermingling of authenticity and fabrication, the promises of an individual self we fashion according to our aspirations and the ways they affect the reality of our lives with all their ecstasies and paradoxes: richly varied phenomena that fuel Buhmann’s reflections. In the course of just a few years, he has built an extensive oeuvre—works of lively invention and exuberant imagination, pictures animated by the artist’s playful delight in confabulation and love of experimentation. Hence the wide range of his protagonists, from clowns and mythical creatures to bizarre flying machines and colorful abstractions. Yet the artist’s vision also encompasses the dark side of such merriment. The mutability of all that seems fixed, constant rapid transformation, and the perpetual danger of losing control make contemporary society a scene of uncertainties and menaces: our very existence is at stake.
With essays by Günther Oberhollenzer and Fabian Ziegler and a conversation between Katrina Kufer and Bernhard Buhmann.