Picasso, ACAB and trash humanity: thoughts and constructive ideas on the the current pictures of Andreas Leikauf
Extinction threatens. The public telephone kiosk has been on slow
fade-out for some time now, the typewriter can squeeze a look in at
the most on the art pages, pencil sharpener and carbon paper are no
longer permanent fixtures on the writing desk, and stickers on the
backs of cars are gradually disappearing from the public space. There
used to be a habit lasting into the seventies in certain social
groups of sticking pictures and/or sayings on what is supposedly the
second skin of the (male) human being, namely, car bodies. Based on
the baroque tradition of heraldry, car owners used these temporary
public tattoos to publicise their sense of humour, also intimate
details of their life. For instance, "Bonking is fun" was
the heading to be read above a comic-type depiction of a copulating
couple. Or: "My Hobby: Screwing". Or: "Hurray! I'm
first again." Apart from the eagerness to bill-post obscenities,
stickers were used to give the lie to one's own (sad) financial
situation. Many a "My Other Car is a Rolls Royce" sticker
could be seen, stuck preferably on rusty crates that could just about
gasp down the road.
The unbridgeable gap between the emblazoned statement and the
presumed, in fact obvious reality was meant to motivate the one who
saw the sticker to a smile. Stickers are assigned to the lowest order
of trivia and their significance is fading - who wants be to be
outed as a crude, small-town macho? - but meanwhile Andreas Leikauf
exploits the slogan mentality in his painting. "My other
painting is a picasso" is the title of one of his pictures. The
inscription consists of red-outlined, white letters that animate a
black, undefinable form - a flag? a pillow? - which is again in
contrast to the red, square picture ground. Leikauf exploits the
below-the-belt-hitting messages in the classic car sticker with
tongue-in-cheek self-irony; he supposes a fictional collector (or
himself) who has to justify himself for a Leikauf painting. Picasso
is a universal synonym for something noble and financially
prohibitive, comparable with a Rolls Royce. Even people who have
nothing to do with art know what it's all about. The artist is piling
on the associations. With a twinkle in his eye and retro-charm.
Do something. Anything. Range through the streets, beg for money from
complete strangers, not just a couple of cents, but one or two euros
straight from the shoulder and then spend them on beer in the next
supermarket. Lie on a bench for hours in the palace gardens. Enjoy
the warming rays of the sun. Listen to the mating calls of the
peacocks and the crunch of strolling shoes on the gravel. Wonder at
the sight of pensioner couples supporting each other with clasped
hands. Saunter past the fruit stand in the shopping street and filch
pears and a banana on the way. Not quite ripe enough, the pears. Get
together with friends near the public fountain and exchange plans for
the evening. Maybe spray ACAB again on a power supply terminal or on
one of the wall posters of the hated business concern. In black. Or
even better, in red. As often as possible. In the tried and tested
group of three. Perfect team. All cops are bastards. Don't get
caught doing it. Think about the graffiti of the early days.
AC/DC writing, obscene scribbles on the wooden backrests of
bucket seats in public transport vehicles, telephone numbers that are
never correctly specified, stuck chewing gum, and SK STURM
letters written in thick Edding script.
Do something. Buy a ticket for the football match in the
stadium. Swear at the fans of the opposing team. Bastards and so on.
Poofs. Let off steam. Let the cooped-up energies flow. Fist-threaten,
suggest self-assurance and strength in the massed crowd. Commit word
crimes. Drink beer. Swing your scarf. Move to the rhythm of the fan
anthems: You'll never walk alone... Trying subtle ruses to win
the attention of a girl who for weeks has always sat in the row next
to the sector entrance. Throw her an occasional look. Standing
here we're out of our minds. But then go home again alone. Fill
yourself with beer till you're legless. Listen to Dystopia.
Love the earth and hate people. Stare at the boxes, sozzled. Work up
sympathy towards them. Discover faces in them. Filter the compact
humming of a passenger plane out of the monotonous sounds of a car
and imagine passengers. How they select family viewing from Hollywood
on the screens on board and are stuffed to the gills with farmed
Have something else. Make the effect stronger.
Tumble in colour spaces. And think again of the couple from the
plane. How their holidays were spoiled by fits of tears on the beach
at night. To see the tears trickle out of the corners of the other
one's eyes. Emotion-wrought faces. And silence. Think of Frankie
Teardrop. Be a Happy
"2 Reasons", "Could be art",
"What a nice day", "Only the bad survive", "The
sky is the reason why", "Home sweet hell", "Ready
to riot". Andreas Leikauf's picture titles are like the set list
of a rock concert. Formulations taken or adapted from the everyday
world, pop, TV, film, fashion, advertising and comics, which we seem
to know at first glance. They sound familiar. The words in
English are always the title of the whole picture. Frequently the
words, phrases, ideas and sayings are written in unspectacular
capitals, occasionally the kind of painted letters intensifies their
effect. For instance when he uses the horror-film and gothic novel
tradition and the letters run as though with blood, intensifying the
bloodthirsty character. Or a script style is dominated by jagged
tines and zigzags, enhancing the subcultural magic in the inherent
message. Leikauf chooses lower-case and handwriting if he wants to
give his picture the updated, magazine-style graphic quality of a
Leikauf slogans have a direct and intense relationship to his
compositions. Words and motifs are shreds of a flood of images and
texts that envelops us, into which the artist plunges, retrieving
selected fragments on land, abstracted, combined, augmented and thus
shaped into new meanings. With this dialogue between image and
text-definition Leikauf is placed in a long Austrian tradition
including Fritz von Herzmanovsky-Orlando, Alfred Kubin right through
to G√ľnter Brus and many more artists. The texts can be interpreted
in many ways. There are merely captions for the signified;
proverb-like, empty idioms, yet, when put in relationship to the
painting, they are filled with content again; furthermore, are
instructions or challenges for action to do this or that, poetic
miniatures, trashy spoofs, calls for action, questions; attempts,
full of pathos, to explain the world, statements on the situation,
one-word titles with double meaning, and so much more. Word-recycling
that raises image-recycling from newspapers and magazines to a new
level: platitudes are exposed, glossy pictures start to fade, idylls
waver and wither, the normal and everyday is given a filter that
muddies and blurs; the simple, the unspectacular, the detail is
recharged. The letters and words seem to float in the picture space
or are interwoven with parts of the picture, for instance notes,
banderoles, jackets, t-shirts, ties and other pieces of clothing.
Leikauf presents the beholder an updated heraldry, counteracted by
the seeming beauty of the youthful persons being portrayed. These
mostly two-coloured pictures reverberate with the following: triste
emptiness and the counsel not to be ingenuous. "Don‚?(TM)t trust
them" could be a picture title by Andreas Leitkauf.
Ashtrays, cigarettes and cigarette lighters are lying on the table.
Illuminated by red light. At the back: the woman with the long black
hair, legs crossed, relaxed, her bent arms resting on them. Snug. The
bright suite of furniture positioned at a right angle betrays the
owner's style. A flat-screen TV might be hanging on the wall of this
room, the fridge is possible filled with Napa Valley Fume Blanc,
the ultra-mini CD player is accustomed to have Norah Jones and Carla
Bruni sliding into it. Recently Amy Winehouse as well. Life, a
wish-fulfilment dream. One without faces. Without a human
countenance. An illusion? Three words document the abrupt climb-down
from the idealised image of a consumer-oriented world, down to
seething uncertainty: is everything a chimera? Human howling behind
the closed facade? Nothing other than a glossy exterior? Could be
perfect are the three words. Note: in the conditional tense. So
not the dream world after all. "Life is struggle and stress -
that's all. There are short periods when you are contented.
Everything else is worry - about the family, or yourself,"
says the football trainer Ivan "Ivica" Osim. Struggle and
stress. That's it. Isn't someone sitting opposite the woman?
Sketchily, you can just make out a bit of a (male?) hand and
trousers. Could be perfect. If the situation wasn't as it is.
Because the words of confrontation, avoided so long, are now going to
break out. Maybe. Maybe the relationship drama can't be cemented any
more. It's all over, lost. But the main thing is to keep your poise.
Don't loose your cool. Show your style, even in grief, in
frustration. "Can I get you anything?" Don't let
yourself be seen as a particle of trash humanity. Trash humanity?
General meeting of writing signs? The necessity of determining the
outcome of the self? Now, at the latest, we know what's going on.
Werner Schwab. Dirt has work character, goodness has work character,
he writes in the essay Der Dreck und das Gute. Das Gute und der
Dreck. (Dirt and Goodness. Goodness and Dirt). The culmination
point has material character, despair is material character. And
boredom is the high-security main material of the basic well-being
industry. Andreas Leikauf dips his trash humanity in garish colours;
he models expressive woodcuts, which manage without the material of
wood and consist of collective longings and individual crises. Their
general meeting of writing signs contributes to smoothing out
Dirt and goodness. They are often balanced out in equilibrium in
Leikauf's pictures. But: only hinted at, not formulated. They mix to
become a catalyst for stories in the heads of the observers.
Narrative force without claiming truth. Conditional, in fact. Could.
Maybe. Maybe everything is quite different. No last attempt at saying
what you feel. No Carla Bruni. No trash humanity. "Would you
like a cigarette" A perfect evening. Isn't it?
So that junkies in public toilets have problems finding their veins,
municipal authorities in the major cities install intensive blue
light in them. This makes the human blood vessels which are to absorb
the poison lose contour. Dominant colour spaces and moods also
characterise Andreas Leikauf's pictures: refulgent turquoise,
brightened pea-green, the most diverse shades of red and purple,
shadowy brown, pale blue, pale pink, creamy ochre, on rare occasions
white, yellow or a fashionable orange. The dominance of one colour in
combination with the black of figural representation attracts
attention, intensifies the viewing angle of the observer. This
conciseness with a tendency towards dramatic expression recalls
penny-dreadful covers, for example, details, enlargements of details
from the title pages of old Jerry Cotton stories. The love of trash
culture, underground and junk is quoted here, just as in Wolfgang
Bauer's poem "The Heart": Because of a lack of a
few dollars/ I rip out my heart once more/dash it spraying blood onto
the black counter/of a little bar in Tijuana/avoiding the bloodbath/I
drink my tequila/outside/I hear Chet Baker's flute trumpet blowing
smoky/the sound comes straight from the heat/from a white clour/these
are my shoot outs (...). The garish, the sensuous quality in the
formal aesthetics used by Leikauf is mellowed by a peculiar
tranquillity, almost boredom radiated by the portrayed persons.
Leikauf shows his figures mostly in a state of pause, still thought,
tormenting self-doubt, or questioning curiosity.
Only rarely are dynamic or action-filled poses shown. Instead: the
still glance to the side, staring into space, head slightly bowed to
the floor, the head only partly visible, and sometimes direct eye
contact. Despite youth and beauty and evident prosperity they quite
often arouse pity, the Leikauf figures, which could have originated
in a film, a magazine photo or a 16 sheet poster. They make a somehow
irritated impression, not honest with themselves, out of place, too.
Right time to be wrong. Who embroidered Hell on the
pretty couch cushion? Isn't that a tear on the girl's face with the
sad eyes and long plaits? And why doesn't the skinny man feel good,
the one with the face of a pop star? Something's wrong here. Life, a
mistake. A way into the mire. Serious case scenario. This is it, has
been for a long time. Serious case scenario. Normal state of
affairs, has been for a long time. Yes, yes wrong colours.
Serious case scenario in the centre of civilisation. And there's no
help. No intense blue light, either.