Duration: 22 January 2005 - 03 April 2006
Artist: Donald Baechler
Curator: Valerio Dehò
Rose and civilization
Beauty is in danger. Any further step of civilization towards its catastrophe puts beauty and its symbols in jeopardy. We have forgotten everything, we have become accustomed to the worst, the aesthetics of the unpleasant triumphs among general uselessness. What can be bought in a shopping center is beautiful, what has a griffe. It means it has a certificate for the availability of spending. How did we get to all this, we don’t know. We didn’t even notice it, but it has anyhow happened. What is irreparable is that we do not have a clue of how we can get out of it.
Flowers have an advantage: they smell. On television they are not well depicted, they look like photographs, desktop wallpapers bestowing amenities, silliness for all. Among the collection of contemporary stupidity, flowers remain unaltered in their value, they cannot be mistaken with anything else. They can be mawkish as an impressionist picture, but they will always be something untouchable and eternal. Some members of the family, like the rose, have later on become symbols that go beyond earthly beauty and retain something spiritual, if not even sacred. The rose is, in fact, the symbol of love and this is true both for what has been established among men, but also for what is divine. It is a flower that has a secret heart, it opens to the knowledge of the Other. Each petal is a promise, its thorns make the blood of the lover spurt while he is offering his love. Blood and scent are opposed, they attract and repel one another, as it happens by all the kinds of Love we know. The month of Mary is in fact the one in which roses blossom. Nature and absolute finally agree. The Holy Mary is always surrounded by these flowers and we all know that she did not exclusively prefer earthly love, as her husband, later Saint Joseph, well knew.
But the rose is a flower that enjoys an ETERNAL glory. Its petals, fragrance, colors, all concur to create a myth without borders. We have to stop here, at beauty, because it is of it that Donald Baechler thought when he found an old edition of a book that was meant to recognize and fight the “enemies of the rose”, those insects that fight against its (our) beauty, maybe waving the flag of hunger or some other similar excuses. Roses are thus in constant danger and ... we have acknowledge that their enemies are extremely numerous, almost infinite. The number of insects and of animals that can hurt them is extraordinary. It seems a conspiracy, but maybe it is only life with its countless dangers.
It is from this idea that the project – which will be exhibited in Merano – was born, it offers again several among the topics of Baechler’s art which are most typical and which have made him known to the whole world. Probably his easiness in drawing, in putting together images coming from different cultures and worlds, finds in “The enemies of the rose” an actual apotheosis. The American artist is able to synthesize with a simple and immediate language, complex data, different echoes, memories and distances which seem insuperable. He can instead let the impossible cohabit, and this is because he is always able to find an elementary and direct synthesis. What for others is difficult, becomes easy for him.
Beauty for Baechler is thus simplicity and crosses the unification of cultures: the one of adults with the one of children. A curiosity for all what is produced in the world and through the proposition in the world of contemporary art of an infantile spontaneity, of a game, of the repeated sign, of collage. The artist looks especially at the world of the simple, of children or at the images of alienated people. His endless series of always different small faces, contains the principle of the different repetition, of our mind’s obsession and liberation, through his hand. Happy or angry faces, strangely elementary, ill-treated by the artist who looks for the most improbable expressions following a combinatorial structure tied to the psychology of forms, to casualty, to the need of disseminating the world with de/signs.
What is difficult actually resides in hiding behind the apparently simple. You have to go backwards and regress up to discover the source of art. It is quite natural that you have to be an adult to do it and to understand it, but to look at the art of children or at art brut, means also to suggest a thought onto the world, on how it should be but is not. It becomes clear of how beauty takes upon itself a paradigmatic value. Its exhausting (and maybe useless) research is parallel to truth, but without any presumption to teach how to see. At the end this type of art does not have any teachers, only nature. It is spontaneous and direct, like a rose, indeed. It is certain that all has to be cultivated and has to grow, we do not have to suffocate it with an excess of love and of attention. This the secret of love.
There is also in Donald Baechler’s work a need tied to travels and displacements, to a wandering in the quest for emotions and incentives. The artist’s papers, the endless drawings he does in his studio after his trips and the experiences he collects around the world, are the subject of which his art is made. And drawing is a perfect means to express this art of simplicity. It is direct and it does not need anything else, it does not require long elaborations. Certainly, to talk of spontaneity can maybe seem a little rhetorical, at least at the beginning.
Baechler knows and has studied art. That is why his conscious regression is important. A tin drum in the artistic field is assuredly less painful. Growth cannot be interrupted, but we can choose the primitivity permitted to us by art. A going back in this case does not mean to close oneself, but to stay always in the position of being open towards a world with its thousand faces. A return to a simple mind is a state of pleasure, of a continuous discovery. The adult world is closed and without any answers, the one of the children is open onto the infinite. This awareness discloses to imagination, but it is an imagination strictly connected with reality.
The same beauty is here a final need, it favors the return for the natural, for something that goes beyond cultures because it has no place. Beauty and atopy get along well, but also beauty and achrony. The artist tells us that art resides outside history, it does not take part in the progress of humanity, but is part of the questions man always asks mute reality. The definition of art comes back to an anamnesis of nature and myth. It is the trace of what humanity in the course of its development in time has strongly repressed and forgotten.
The enemies of the rose are therefore adults, a civilization that submerges Eros/Rose with words endowed with a unique repressive sense. Maybe culture is actually the enemy we cannot recognize as such, yet. A culture which sediments meanings and makes of everything a symbol, that is something abstract and terribly distant from reality. The rose keeps silent and defends itself. Art, itself a product of civilization, must regress and go back to be something natural, as much as this can still happen. This series of works are a metaphor for the entire work by Baechler, for his own way of working and for his search, for his idea of art. Within the poetics of the artist, this exhibition is important because it states his choices. It highlights his world, his aspiration to tune in with reality through art. And reality is complex, varied, sometimes uncomfortable, and difficult. It flows under the visible world and reaches deeply into our mind.