PETER ASSMANN: Character Heads

„Character Heads“ on Herbert Schager’s new works

Herbert Schager began exploring the artistic possibilities of the computer at the very beginning of the period when a wider audience started becoming aware of this apparatus. The artist’s creative use of the computer, which has since become the central focal point of his work, is characterized primarily by diversity; filmic animations are created here as well as computer graphics and Internet projects.

For the exhibition at the gallery in Stifterhaus, Herbert Schager has concentrated entirely on one theme, with which he has been involved for some time already, and for which an abundance of material has been created. He has developed a kind of „picture series“ of representations of heads, which he calls portraits, and these convey, first of all, an enormous diversity of creative possibilities. The continous theme of representing human heads is never treated in a repetitive way, but rather each individual representation becomes a singular character study – a very specific situation of observation. Schager’s heads are always captured in a movement of transparency between inside and outside; they fix a specific moment in the sense of an open-ended filmic experience. The possibilities of freely flowing design on the computer are concentrated into a painterly snapshot, while the photographic moment is expanded into a longer-term typologization. While there is a reference to the artistic traditions of gestural painting and graphics, or even overpainting, which are oriented to the expression of a moment, these are not simply translated into technically determined form of arrangements – instead, Herbert Schager’s computer graphics seek a poetry of images that is entirely their own. The artistic work on the computer does not simulate other experiences of images here, but rather combines its own creative possibilities into a new experience of images. This is characterized primarily by a blurred of different levels of color. Yet the way in which Schager uses these layerings that are typical for the computer is not limited to surface phenomena, but rather strives to attain spaces of painterly depth and to allow concentrations of energy to emerge as spatial image experiences.

In this way, the photographic representation of a human head approaches the experience of a „character head“, in other words a complex, superordinated categorical definition. The artistic objective is not an individual portrait, but rather the create of a picture situation, in which observers may bring their own heads into the representation as well.

Peter Assmann