Hirmer Verlag, 2011
152 pages, 110 colour images
29,5 × 27,5 cm, hardcover
English / Chinese / German
With essays by Peter Assmann, Rainer Metzger, Clarissa Stadler and Xiao Xiaolan.
“Xenia Hausner. Damage” contains many photographs which provide an insight into the artist’s studio and her work processes. 75 colour reproductions show pictures from the different stages of her creativity and will be on display in a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum. Xenia Hausner paints people. The focus of her new work is a collection of pictures, dealing with love and loss and the catastrophes of our present age. These large-format pieces are a continuation of a series which in its entirety explores interpersonal confrontations and balancing acts in relationship.
‘Damage’ and other relationships – on Xenia Hausner’s artistic development
Xenia Hausner merges strikingly in her artistic work the current state of knowledge in the field of painting and photography, supplemented by a precise knowledge of staging within the entire complex of scenery, extras, performance spaces, actors and their stage presences – knowledge that she has acquired thanks to her many years of successful work as a set designer.
She also skillfully introduces another important accomplishment of twentieth-century European art history to her pictures: the collage, combining various elements into a new pictorial entity, into a new pictorial conglomerate.
She astonishes the viewer with colours that make a statement, dappled contrasts, conscious appeals to a quick effect on the eyes – colours supplemented by their chromatic quality and underlined by the knowledge of pictorial aesthetics in their application; the strongly expressive brushstrokes not only produce an effect of their own but also depict a form and additionally fulfil their functions in harmony with the entire image.
Xenia Hausner’s pictorial style displays a very self-reflexive approach. Aware of the artificiality of every image construction, she succumbs to no illusions about reality. Instead, the story of an illusion in each and every image presentation is made assailable. Without pretending, she nevertheless presents the qualities of a pictorial pretence. The pictorial application of colour occurs with the goal of increasing expression, and is likewise derived from the consciousness of the current omnipresence of the effect of pictures – as rendered by the media – on the daily reality of each viewer of her compositions. Here in particular the image experience from film and video is of the essence. Thus the entire process of composition remains transparent as the sum of various stages of configuration and is comprehensible in its phases. The process is also visible because photographs are integrated into the artistic image as collages, and just as may be seen with other materials, this is done with great care.The resulting image composition is a pictorial product and likewise photorealistic. She makes reference in many ways to a before and to an after. It is as if the cinematic eye of the viewer is being addressed both on the level of technique and on the semantic level. The viewer perceives the image presentation as a kind of still-shot prolonged in the narrative both forwards and backwards. (…)
Turning to the downfall
Taking leave after a catastrophe is no voluntary act. It makes a person numb and unable to react. Later, it all comes back as a puzzle with thousands of pieces which make no sense even when you put them together. (…)
What are you portraying? An analysis of Xenia Hausner’ art of portrait painting
Xenia Hausner grasps and extracts the situation in which people reach the extreme of their psychological and physical limits. She condenses and describes it. At the same time she encourages viewers to think about it from the perspective of their own life experience. (…) The interaction between the person posing and the background, and with it the corresponding layout, makes the viewer think he or she is gazing at a theatrical miniature. Since 2003, she has combined painting with photography to reinforce these new elements in her art.
(…) Xenia Hausner has recognized that references to pictures or recycling them is an effective method to connect the subjective aesthetic rules of the artist. What she identifies in figurative images is the language and vision of the body as well as the consciousness residing in it. (…)
XENIA攫取并提炼了人们在生理与精神上达到极点的状态，将其浓缩和描述出来，启发观者加入自己所积累的生活经验进行思考。(…) 她绘画中的人物似乎有着生理与心理的细微颤动，人像与背景的穿插、组合，让观者仿佛在观看 一个个微型剧。
Blind happening – concerning art, contingency and the recent works of Xenia Hausner
In Xenia Hausner’s pictures there is no playing with an open deck, no way to glean a fixed meaning, a story or even any iconography. A well-known study of western imagery describes the development from icon to narrative, a drifting away from the close-up of the icon which dwells on the face to the placing of whole and holistic figures in a narrative context. In Xenia Hausner’s works, one might say, the circle closes. Her figures have taken leave of the narrative and have become icons again, or, as one likes to express it since pop art: at least they have become images again. All these figures obviously have a story. The question is, what story? Her figures reveal nothing programmatically. (…)
A precedence for a kind of art that shuns revelation can be found in the nineteenth century. Édouard Manet created it and managed to acquire a label for being the most modern of modern artists. Manet’s people live from the programmatic rejection of expression. Faces are purely optical, a facial materialism, which show the individual elements of a face, but for which even back then the transformation of details into an expression meant an excessive preoccupation with integration and interpretation. The lack of expression, one might also say, the empty face is Manet’s central formula as a painter. It is significant because it denies significance. (…)
The diagnosis remains unchanged. The mentality of the present is rootlessness, detachment, existence as a passage. Xenia Hausner’s art can be set in the tradition of Baudelaire’s aestheticism and Manet’s phenomenalist painting. “Ennui” is no longer the right term for this state of mind; it has been worn out. Even a status quo of insecurity (or especially one) depends on innovations, no matter if they are informed by the unspoiledness of a new concept. (…)