How would you describe your work?
Felix Baudenbacher: I’m interested in the kinds of painting that are somehow more than just picture-making, when paint affects you with force and immediacy and you can look again and again and never stop being affected. I go where the search for that quality takes me. Right now, that is a reduced visual language where it’s all about a very finely worked-out balance between shape, colour, the materiality of the paint, the canvas on which it sits, and the frame that surrounds the canvas. Only when these qualities are just right can the piece come together in the way I want it to.
Who or what inspired your approach?
I admire artists who follow an inner voice against all opposition. Historically, the two most meaningful exponents of that kind of art making for me are Alberto Giacometti and Philip Guston — I love the anecdote of Willem de Kooning stepping up to Guston after the opening of the first exhibition of his late work (which had been received with bemused puzzlement) and saying something along the lines of, ‘Well, you’re truly on your own now’. I think that should be every artist’s goal: first, to learn from the best and then to find a place to stand on one’s own.
Whose work would you most like to be exhibited alongside?
To be exhibited alongside the work of either of the two above, Giacometti or Guston, would be incredible, although my current work now very different stylistically from either of theirs. Of living artists, to have my work exhibited alongside that of Imi Knoebel, Joseph Marioni or Alex Katz would be a great honour.
In your opinion, what is the most exciting development in contemporary art?
The fact that, thanks to the available communication technology, you can now find and build your own niche audience. There’s a danger in that too though: it’s easy to prioritise that side too early, to work on marketing your work when, really, you should be exploring and learning to master your craft, honing your understanding of the kind of art you want to make, schooling your taste and your critical faculties. But if you get it the right way round, building your own audience can make the difficult years until the (art) world starts paying attention a little less bleak.
Tell us something interesting/unusual about yourself.
I was a Swiss junior pro tennis player and trained with Martina Hingis. I share my birthday with both Willem de Kooning and Bridget Riley, and was taught at Central Saint Martins by Mike Thorpe, who was Peter Doig’s tutor there years earlier. (I was also in the same year on the same BA course as 2013 Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, although our paths didn’t cross much). I’m also almost fully ambidextrous, so can do most things with either my right or my left hand. I will usually write with my right but draw and paint with my left.
Bianca Chu, Head of Sale for First Open / London: Felix Baudenbacher attempts to achieve a finely worked-out balance between form, colour and materiality. Such as in Roman Liška’s work, Baudenbacher’s painting also seeks to build on and at the same time break with artistic traditions.
Interview by Jack Castle
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