With references to introspection and bold semi-abstract approach to landscape painting, German artist Raffael Bader provokes a lightness to the way we view our journey with planet Earth. And this can be seen in his exhibition in Brushes With Greatness Gallery, London, titled Roam Inaccessible Paths currently on view at 4 Garden Walk until November 20. The show consists of a range of self-reflective oil paintings that allow viewers to contemplate the complexities and harmonies of human emotion. We caught up with Bader to discuss his innovative thematic approaches, artistic inspirations and future projects.
Hi Raffael, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm a painter living and working in Leipzig (Germany). I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig in 2019. After that, my artistic work was able to develop and free itself and thus become my own. My work is semi-abstract and dominated by nature and landscape.
Your solo exhibition Roam Inaccessible Paths is currently on show and presents a series of evocative pieces with themes surrounding nature, interconnectivity and the ‘self.’ How did you come to select these themes?
While my works first appear as semi-abstract landscapes, I am concerned with the connection that exists between us humans and the natural environments. I have come to understand that what happens in the external world also happens in a way within us. With the questions, wishes, longings, etc. that I carry inside of me, I look into the world and find motifs that enable me to deal with them in a painterly way. The series and individual works then develop side by side and I decide spontaneously what I will continue to work on. In the end, paintings emerge that accompany my outer and inner journey. For the exhibition Roam Inaccessible Paths, I then worked with Jack Trodd, the curator of the exhibition, to select paintings that allow my journey to be followed.
The exhibition consists of vibrant oil paintings that gracefully depict these themes and ideas. What made you decide on this choice of medium for your works?
For a while, I painted a lot with watercolour and the thin watery application felt natural and organic to me. For the oil paint I use a medium, which makes the paint water-paintable. This creates layers that are very thin and do not completely cover the canvas. Combining this with thick layers and oil sticks allows me to paint in a way that, although very flat, allows a certain depth. The presence of the different applications of paint, as well as showing the materials, such as the canvas, are also important to me in order not to obscure the reality of the painting and at the same time to preserve the potential that lies in the ‘open’ places.
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What is the title Roam Inaccessible Paths based on?
The idea behind this is that we want to invite visitors to embark on a journey that leads them to themselves. Perhaps the view of abstract landscapes linked to inner processes will enable them to embark on what are often difficult and sometimes blocked paths, and to do so with a certain lightness.
The landscapes that you have visited prove to have been a primary influence on the works in this exhibition. What inspired you to explore these environments in the first place?
Sometimes I find that my mind is stuck, so I have to physically move or at least imaginarily go on a journey. I think that in my early travels I experienced a freedom that breaks with the daily struggles of life and thus interrupts the carousel of thoughts that actually lead nowhere. I also experience that when I am in a natural environment, I reconnect with my inner world. And beyond that, there is so much beauty out there (and of course, the subtle danger in that beauty) that I wouldn't want to miss.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far on your journey as an artist?
Doing art means dealing with yourself in order to get along with the world. At the same time, doing something that tries to be a counter to the usual ways. What a challenge.
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How would you describe your artistic approach?
It is about nature. And nature is on the one hand all the natural things and elements that surround us, and on the other hand we humans are also part of this nature. I understand nature as a chaotic ground that strives for harmony. This seems to me to be a basic principle of life. I use the nature that surrounds us to create works in which I can face my inner conflicts. This includes interpersonal relationships and the search for understanding my role in this world. As the principle of the harmonic-chaotic thesis suggests, everything is in process. I understood that the painterly engagement with the landscape and nature enables me to bring my feelings into painting. This is how a semi-abstract way of working developed. Since the process seems elementary to me, I don't want to hide the painting process either.
Roam Inaccessible Paths is on for over a week at 4 Garden Walk Shoreditch, presented by BWG Gallery. What are some of the takeaways you hope people have after visiting the show?
The feeling that they were on a journey, although they had moved only a few square meters. Moreover, that they may have met themselves in the process and thus felt a bit more connected to the world.
This is your first solo-exhibition in London after doing several brilliant solo and group shows worldwide. What should we expect from you next?
There are some great projects coming up. In December, I will participate in a group exhibition at Annarumma Gallery in Naples. Then I will participate with a large painting in the next London Art Fair in January at Candida Stevens Gallery. In March there will be a large group exhibition with contemporary landscape painters in Barcelona at Alzueta Gallery, in which I will participate. This will be followed by a solo exhibition in Berlin at K12 Gallery in April, and a duo exhibition with Danish painter Thomas Mau at enari Gallery in Amsterdam at the end of April.
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