Few artists have the courage to
begin every work of art on a clean slate, with no preliminary plan
whatsoever. Fewer still can do so and maintain total integrity.
Bernd Haussmann faces the nothingness that is blank canvas, wood,
metal, or other surfaces, and listens to his thoughts until a
direction appears in his mind. Then he picks up his brush, and a
subtle conversation begins. “As people get to know each other by
talking,” he says, “I get to know the painting by painting it.” At a
certain point, the dialog resolves itself and a work of art is
revealed as a record of that process.
Haussmann builds up layers that hint at something beneath the
surface. That something may be psychological, or may go even deeper
and allude to eternal verities. Various forms appear, some
positioned as color fields that organize the composition and some
looped organically like recurring memories. Staccato blips
underscore the electric chirr and crackle of contemporary
consciousness that brings the work alive.
As Haussmann proceeds, the dialog is widened to include the eventual
viewer. The painting becomes accessible in the sense that it
furnishes suggestions and invites participation. “There is always an
underlying principle that I want to share with you,” he says. “What
you make of it depends on what information I put into the painting.
This is important for the way I look at art or life in general. It
doesn’t necessarily mean I know the truth, but I make my doubts and
questions and my very strong opinions visible – almost surgically
bare, if one looks closely. The more information and energy I put
into the painting, the more it will resonate with the viewer.
Painting, to me, is an energy exchange as well as a communication. A
lot of people feel some connection when they look at my art.”
Haussmann makes no distinction between his life and his art. “I am
who I am,” he says, “and that is what I paint. I live my art. Art is
a lifestyle – it is what I believe, and it defines me even as I
create it. What is important to me is sharing my thoughts and
beliefs, and keeping an eye on the cultural and political and social
environment as our earth progresses.”
The physical environment is a matter of intense concern as well.
Haussmann divides his time between the Boston area and rural Maine,
where he contributes to the building of a nature preserve and
creates environmental sculptures. His paintings, though rigorously
abstract, reflect that same dedication. They are saturated with the
atmosphere of the natural world. “I want to show you the fragile
environment, the intensity of connection that you experience when
you go outdoors,” says Haussmann. “I hope to make people more
sensitive, more aware, more critical of the world that surrounds
us.” His paintings shimmer in silence while the conversation that
produced them continues, communicating many shades and nuances of
information to each person who pauses to interact with them.
Maine, August 2006
Critics on Haussmann's work
… Die Arbeiten des "jetzt in Boston
lebenden Künstlers zeugen von Behutsamkeit und Geduld. … Langsam
wachsend fügen sich die Kompositionen und werden dann in aller
Vorläufigkeit in die Welt entlassen. Auf Endgültigkeit wird nicht
gepocht. Das Wachsen weiß auch bereits vom Verschwinden…"
(Südwestpresse, Tübingen 1997)
"… Bernd Haussmann uses an alphabet of icons to spell out visceral
messages. … the artist makes no proclamations, just painterly
intimations of wholeness and peace -(things after all so fragile and
subtle that a proclamation would chase them away…)"
(Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe 8/1997)
"… Haussmann's pieces provide a balm to … anger. The artist has a
lexicon of images for his philosophies, which he draws with a
painterly hand. (These images) … stand amid layers of pale paint …
arguing that not everything on earth is going to hell in a
(Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe 9/1997)
"… Haussman captures the look and feel of nature in his paintings.
And he uses his works to explore more than just the outdoors; he
examines history and origins. … Rich in color, texture and design,
Haussmann's works are warm and evocative."
(Mary K. Fitch, Arts on the North Shore, Salem Evening News, 1997)
"… The single blade of grass in his paintings holds the energy of
the human torso. The collage element … represents the integration of
the human body. … The duality of the forms calls to mind the
separate, yet intimately linked relationship of humans and nature,
passion and order, life and death. The mythic and the intimate are
(Barbara O'Brien Director of the Gallery and Visiting Artist
Program, Montserrat College of Art, Curator of "Tender Allies: The
Biophilia Connection", Montserrat College of Art 1999)
"Haussmann invites us to face moments of beauty, conflict and truth.
The truth is in the small moments - on the edge of a drawing or in
the corner of a painting. …"
(Barbara O'Brien, Director of the Gallery and Visiting Artist
Program, Montserrat College of Art: Bernd Haussmann, Das Lied von
der Erde, Chase Gallery catalog 2000)
"… Haussmann's abstract works are layered with paint and then
scratched, with the result that they appear to bring with them their
own history, graffiti etched in the same era as an ancient ruin.
"The Beginning, the End and the Time in Between" hints at experience
and time, history's foundation, as an almost tender revelation. …
Haussmann's formal painterly abilities are as powerful on wood,
steel, canvas, plaster or paper."
(Eileen Kennedy, artsMEDIA 2000)
"… Currently on display at William Campbell Contemporary Art, "Das
Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)", delves not only into the
nature of things, but also into the artistic process as diaphanous
layers of paint openly reveal the evolution of each work.
Haussmann's work is very effective at urging the viewer to see
beyond beauty, mistakes, creation and decay as he reveals the source
under each layer. …
(Kendra McCown, Star-Telegramm 4/2001)
"Bernd Haussmann's abstract paintings at the Chase Gallery take a
dramatic and colorful turn from the past work. The artist belongs in
the lineage of abstract expressionists such as Robert Rauschenberg
and Willem de Kooning, who emblazoned their souls on canvas with
(Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe 10/2001)