„Das Portrait in den Werken von Peintre X

In einer Zeit, in der das Portrait als Genre durch eine Vielzahl der Ausdrucksmittel dank neuer Medien weitläufig ausgelotet wird, sind herausragende Positionen eher eine Seltenheit. Das eigentliche Thema des Ichs in der Darstellung des Gesichts hingegen bleibt trotz einer inflationären Auseinandersetzung weiterhin gefragt. Peintre X hat hier seinen eigenen, einprägsamen Ausdruck gefunden. Seine Interpretationen des Bildnisses sind verschleiernd und überspitzend zugleich. Die dargestellten Personen haben Masken oder Hüte auf, sind mal mit verschlüsselten Typografien versehen oder stehen einfach Kopf. Wer will, kann sich auf das sinnbehaftete Spiel des Künstlers mit Zitaten großer Kreativer wie dem Enfant terrible der Kunstszene Damien Hirst oder der Extreme auslotenden Performance-Künstlerin Marina Abramovic einlassen. Auch sozialkritische Töne sind im Werk des Künstlers zu finden, wenn er sich etwa auf Zeitungsausschnitte der Satire-Zeitschrift Charlie Hebdo oder die Terroranschläge in Paris bezieht. Doch letztendlich möchte der Künstler den Betrachter auf seine eigene Gedanken- und Gefühlswelt zurückwerfen, was auch sein Zurücktreten hinter die Kunst durch das gewählte Pseudonym beweist.

Die Wirkung seiner Werke ist gleich in doppelter Hinsicht emotional erfahrbar – durch Form und Farbe sowie durch das figurativ Dargestellte an sich. Die bewegt ausgeführte Pinselführung, deren pastoser Farbauftrag die Kraft der Materie heraufbeschwört, die nahezu expressionistisch kontrastierende Wucht der Farbwelten, der Ausdruck des Blickes der dargestellten Gesichter – all das trägt zu einem inneren Erleben der Bildnisse bei. Dabei spricht Peintre X sämtliche Sinne an, indem er suggestiv z.B. den Geschmack einer Banane heraufbeschwört oder das Gefühl des Übergangs von Kälte in Wärme thematisiert. Seine malerisch-pastose Ausdrucksweise, durchzogen von zeichnerischen Elementen, bleibt trotz der dynamischen Form figurativ – und erhält durch die leichte perspektivische Verzerrung einen entfremdenden Abstand zur Realität. In seiner Serie der Tier-Masken kombiniert Peintre X seinen kraftvollen Pinselduktus mit einem feinen, klare Akzente setzenden Farbauftrag, dessen Formgebung kubistische Tendenzen aufweist. Wiederkehrende Elemente, Neon-Röhren sowie die Darstellung von Alltagsgegenständen, wie etwa in seiner Candy-Serie, bringen ihn dem Pop-Art-Gedanken einer an Genuss orientierten Gesellschaft des Massenkonsums nahe.

Die Werke dieses Malers sind voller Anspielungen und reich an unterschiedlichsten Darstellungsformen. Alle Sinne ansprechend und leichtfüßig bewegt sich Peintre X in dem Genre der figurativen Malerei. Die Wahl eines nah gewählten Ausschnittes lädt den Betrachter unmittelbar ein, sich in die Welt des dargestellten Ichs zu begeben und wirft ihn somit direkt auf sich selbst zurück. Das komplexe Thema des zeitgenössischen Menschen, die mal harten mal zarten Töne der Gesellschaft, all das schwingt mit und erhält durch die feine Verfremdung der Komposition und Perspektive sowie der oftmals pastellfarbig gewählten Hintergründe eine Erleichterung, eine trivialisierende Süße, die ihren disharmonischen Klang jedoch nicht verliert. Mit seiner Darstellung des Ichs wendet Peintre X sich dem soziokulturellen Komplex rund um das Subjekt in seinem Umfeld zu und zeigt mittels Maskierung und Überspitzung die ambivalenten Tendenzen der menschlichen Existenz auf.“

Saskia Rode M.A.

Saskia Rode
„The portrait in works by Peintre X

At a time when the portrait as a genre is being extensively explored through various means of expression thanks to the new media, outstanding artistic works are somewhat of a rarity. Despite this excessive exploration however, the actual subject of the self in the portrayal of the face continues to be popular.In this regard, Peintre X has found his own memorable form of expression. His portrait interpretations obscure and exaggerate at the same time. The individuals depicted in the portraits wear masks or hats, or are given encoded typographies or are simply upside down. If one so wishes, one can explore the artist’s sensuous playing with quotations from great creative personalities such as the enfant terrible of the art scene Damien Hirst or the extremes of exploratory performance artist Marina Abramovic. Socially critical tones can also be found in the artist’s work where it makes reference, for example to the newspaper cuttings of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo or the terrorist attacks in Paris. But in the end, it is the artist’s desire to direct the observer’s attention back to his own world of ideas and emotions – an aspect which also demonstrates his retreat behind art through his chosen pseudonym.

The effect of his works can be emotionally experienced in two respects – through form and colour as well as through the figuratively portrayed individual in itself. The animated brushstrokes, in which the pastose application of colour evokes the power of the subject, the almost expressionistically contrasting impact of the colour worlds, and the expression of the portrayed faces’ gaze all contribute to an inner experience of the portraits. In the process, Peintre X stimulates all the senses by suggestively evoking the taste of a banana, for example, or by touching upon the feeling of transition from cold to hot. His pictorial-pastose means of expression, which is permeated by drawing elements, remains figurative despite its dynamic form – and maintains an alienating distance from reality through its slight distortion of perspective. In his series of animal masks, Peintre X combines his powerful brushwork style with an application of fine and clear colour accents whose shapes display cubist tendencies. Recurring elements, neon tubes and the depiction of everyday objects (as illustrated, for example, in his Candy series) bring him closer to the Pop Art notion of a pleasure-oriented society of mass consumption.

This painter’s works are full of allusions and rich in the most diverse forms of depiction. Evoking all the senses and in a fleet-footed way, Peintre X operates in the genre of figurative painting. The choice of a proximally selected segment invites the observer to venture into the world of the portrayed self and, in doing so, focuses the observer’s attention straight back on himself. The complex subject of the contemporary human being, the hard and soft tones of society – all of this resonates and, through the subtle alienation of the composition and perspective and the frequent use of pastel-coloured backgrounds, receives a simplified quality and a trivialising sweetness, which nonetheless does not lose its disharmonious tone. With his portrayal of the self, Peintre X addresses the socio-cultural complex surrounding the subject in his environment and deploys masking and exaggeration to display the ambivalent tendencies of human existence.“


Saskia Rode M.A.
Peintre X hat viel Ideal.
Im Genre der Kunst liebt er Beckmann, schätzt Damien Hirst und wohl auch die Konstruktivisten, zitiert Marina Abramovic und nutzt sie alle zusammen, um sich von ihnen entscheidend abzuheben. Im Eigenen – und, ja gewiss, das hat er reichlich – im Eigenen also zitiert er sie ehrenvoll als Teile des persönlichen intellektuellen Herkommens in einer „Dankeschön für die Basis“ – Ambition, stellt auch in Frage – Life is not always a Damien Hirst, The Artist is not present – um darauf neo-romantisch, neo- populistisch und neo-sensibel aufzubauen.In der persönlichen Zurückhaltung übertrifft er sogar Warhols „Fill in you own signature“. Sein Eigenes: die zeitungsgleiche Weltpressegrundierung mit durchgestrichenen Augenpartien, die Brustwarzenmedallions, die skripturalen Einschübe, die Neonschrift. All das ist berührend, zielt auf eine Einheit aller Einsichtungen, verbindet in seiner reichlichen Skepsis und abnehmender Hoffnung und ist dadurch mittendrin im Heute. Peintre X erreicht damit die, auf die er zielt und zu denen er ja selbst gehört.

Seine Portraits sind bewusst plakativ, setzen Licht und Schatten über additiv aufgetragene farbvielfältige Flächen. Er arbeitet mit einer harten Kontur, so als sollte kein Zweifel am Authentischen aufkommen und er transportiert einen bedeutungsvollen Kontext mittels grafischen Abbreviaturen, die die sprechenden Augen – gedoppelt als Superzeichen – die fleischfressend roten Lippen und die nur skizzenhaft ausgeführte hohe Stirnzone verstärken.Natürlich erreicht er damit eine Plakat – oder Illustriertencoverausstrahlung. Er gibt aber eben Rätzel auf, denn was sollen die Farbpunkte und der rechteckige Einschub, was sollen Brustwarzenmedaillons? Die Farbpunkte und Farbflächen sind eine Hommage an ein Kunst, die – wie verschieden auch immer – Teil de Basis ist, auf der Peintre x angibt, gegründet zu sein. Ob wir das bei Richard Paul Lohse verorten oder als Reminiszenzen an alles Konstruierte lesen: können wir getrost dahin gestellt sein lassen. Dass Beckmann für Ihn bedeutend ist und Damien Hirst erhellt ja nicht zuletzt aus dem skripturalen Hinweis „Life is not always a Damien Hirst“ , der sich auf dessen 75 Millionen Diamanten – Schädel bezieht. Selbstverständlich gehört hierher auch die Neonleuchtschrift, ein Klassiker zeitgenössischer Kunst, mit der schon Joseph Kosuth, Mario Merz und Bruce Naumann gearbeitet haben.
Die Brustwarzenmedaillons schließlich stehen für Intimität, für Verletzlichkeit, für Ehrlichkeit. Der Gegensatz zum Plakativen einer äußeren Welt könnte kaum intensiver ausgemalt werden. Distanz schaffen auch die blauen Übermalungen der Augenpartien und jenes „The Artist is not present“, dem Peintre X in freundlicher Erinnerung an Marina Abramovic eine 10er Serie gewidmet hat.

Reich an Zitaten, reich an Charakterisierungen, nahe am eigenen und eben auch unserem Alltagserleben, inmitten des Persönlichen im Allgemeinen hat Peintre X eine Menge an Nachdenkenswerten anzubieten. Er sucht die direkte Begegnung, sucht Nachdenken und vor allem Selbstreflexion anzuregen. Kein Wunder, dass er neben dem Galerieraum auch auf Strassen ist, für jeden erreichbar in seiner eigenständigen und vor allem absolut glaubwürdigen Form einer art engagee.

Prof. Dr. Helge Bathelt


Foto: Saskia Wehler
Peintre X has many ideals.
In the genre of art, he loves Beckmann, appreciates Damien Hirst and probably even the constructivists, he cites Marina Abramovic and uses them all in order to stand out from them himself. In his own ideals, of which has many indeed, he justly cites them as being a part of his own intellectual origins in a „thanks for providing the basis“ – ambition is also questioned – life is not always a Damien Hirst, the artist is not present – in order to build upon the neo-romantic, neo-populist and neo-sensitive. In personally restraining himself, he even outdoes Warhol’s „Fill in you own signature“. His own ideal: the newspaper-like ground layer of international press with crossed-out eyes, nipple medallions, textual inserts, neon font. All this is tangible, aiming at showcasing the unity of all insights, backed by his strong scepticism and waning hope, and thereby immersed in modernity at the same time. Peintre X thus reaches his target audience as well as his fellow contemporaries.

His portraits are deliberately striking, interplays of light and shadow on colourfully, additively added layered surfaces. He works with hard contours, leaving no doubt of his authenticity, and conveys significant meaning by way of graphic abbreviations, accentuating the expressive eyes – doubly stressed as a super symbol – the carnivorous red lips, and the sketchily drawn high forehead. Of course, with this work, he achieves a vibe reminiscient of a poster or illustrated cover. Yet he also puzzles: What on earth do the color spots and the rectangular slot mean? And the nipple medallions? The spots and layers of color are an homage to art which – no matter how different – is a part of the basis upon which Peintre x declares to have his foundations. It’s insubstantial as to whether we consider Richard Paul Lohse the inspiration, or if we should interpret everything as something reminiscient of the constructed. The importance of Beckmann and Damien Hirst to him comes not only to light from the textual clue „Life is not always a Damien Hirst“ – a reference to a skull covered in 75 million diamonds. Of course, the neon font is also an esssential part, a classic of contemporary art, used by such luminaries as Joseph Kosuth, Mario Merz and Bruce Naumann.

Last but not least, the nipple medaillons stand for intimacy, vulnerability and honesty. The juxaposition to a visually impressive exterior world could hardly be more intensively captured. Distance is created by eyes painted over in blue and the „The Artist is not present“ – a ten-piece series Peintre X dedicated in to Marina Abramovic in loving memory.

Rich in references, rich in characterizations, close to one’s self and even to our everyday experiences, at the heart of the personal in general, Peintre X offers much upon which to reflect. He examines the direct encounter, seeks reflection and, above all, to inspire self-reflection. It’s no wonder that, in addition to showing in a gallery space, he’s also on the street, accessible to everyone, in an independent and above all absolutely credible form of art engagee.


Prof. Dr. Helge Bathelt

When the Artist is Not There – Peintre X in an Exclusive Interview with Widewalls.ch

In the prominent corner of the last year’s ART.FAIR Cologne, there was a striking image. A Batman portrait with a neon addition, accompanied with similar pieces, in what was often mentioned as one of the best curated booths at the event. The space belonged to the 30works gallery and the work was signed as a piece by Peintre X, a mysterious figure in contemporary urban art movement.

A little too approachable at a first glance, the works of Peintre X in fact abound with layers, both painterly and philosophical, all of which originate from the street. The exaggerated close-ups are his signature, while the faces he portrays are a figment of the artist’s imagination, born where contemplation and found imagery combine. An intriguing story follows this devotee to contemporary portraiture and we’ve had the chance to learn some of it at the occasion of the final chapter of ART.FAIR in Cologne.

Widewalls: You are dedicated to portraiture. Are your subjects real people?
Peintre X: The most of them are not. They are rather faces in my mind that I have collected from different places – with eyes and mouth and the size of the face and the heads – upon which I build a face. Sometimes I have some real models, but I use the photographic parts mostly for inspiration. The final result is an image I changed into something else.

WW: All of your portraits are visually strong. Big eyes, bold strokes, all are very powerful and aggressive. What technique do you prefer to achieve such a result?
PX: I agree, I do like pieces with strong energy. So, everything I do is done with a brush. This way, I feel this energy is best transferred to people. Also, I use a lot of newspapers as the source – they are the best mirror of the world, right? So, in them I find what is interesting to me and collect specific papers from a specific town or area, to add actual events into my artworks. My portraits are painted on these newspaper layers. It’s as if they are fighting the tragic everyday stories, representing people who become stronger after being knocked down. Additionally, I try to use as many artist’s stories as backgrounds, like I did in “Life is Not Always a Damien Hirst”, like you see.

Inspirations and Influences

WW: I’ve noticed the Damien Hirst series before and wanted to ask you more about it.
PX: Sure! The first idea I got came from the diamond skull of Damien Hirst. Playing around with the central theme of that piece, I wanted to say that life is not always decorated with diamonds. So, I focused on the background story of the artist, the invisible one, behind the diamond surface. There is another series I worked on, called The artist is not present. The essence of Ms. Abramovic, Serbian artist from New York, is in the very presence of the art that she represents herself. I have turned this idea on me, because my art is present without me. I’m not an existing person on it.

WW: Let’s go back to Damien Hirst, I would like to hear about your own view on Hirst and his art. Do you think he is a paradigm of contemporary art in conceptual, or maybe even in the market sense? Is this way of criticizing his work?
PX: Well, Damien Hirst is a special thing in the art world. I think he uses diamond things deliberately, which makes his work expensive in the market. For me it’s a kind of Pop Art. What I see is that he shows people this super-expensive piece and calls them to buy it, so in this way he’s kind of like Andy Warhol. He makes things in the art world and says – Ok, now you buy it, buy it, buy it. Personally, I appreciate this idea, but this is far from what I am trying to do. I always talk about that essence which is behind the diamonds, the truth behind the flashy surface. I do use some Pop Art elements, but it’s about the meaning and the artwork itself, it’s story, because I am not there, not present.

Lighting Up the Art

WW: You use a lot of neon in your work. What does it mean?
PX: I like it when there is little more than only painting. I like it when you can see the third dimension, besides the canvas. So my work might step out of traditional and contemporary painting, but I’m actually a real fan of Pop Art, because when these elements come together, this is what I like the most. The neon light is there, adding another element and it should always stay on.

WW: You mentioned that you are inspired by Pop Art, but I know that you have a background in street art or graffiti, so can I hear a little bit more about that?
PX: Just like the most of the young artists coming from the graffiti scene, when I was younger I started in the street and did it for a long time. I painted many trains when I was younger. That was at the beginning of my career as an artist. Later, I moved on to legal ways of creation, working on canvas, and expanding my techniques beyond aerosol and cans, going above this limit. This is how I switched to painting, about ten or twelve years ago. Still, I do go back to aerosol sometimes. Even outside.

WW: Can we see some remnants of your street work in the portraits you do today?
PX: I stopped with the street art a couple of years ago and worked with the brush. I must say that the idea for my street art is the impression I get from the people outside, from the world. My goal now is to bring the art closer to people who don’t go to galleries or in museums, to give them back the inspiration I took from all those faces outside of walls.

WW: Are you again active on the streets, then?
PX: Yes.

WW: Where?
PX: Everytime I travel, in Germany most of the time. Occasionally, I go out to England or Asia. The most of the street pieces are small, that’s easy for me to render some corner in the wall. And I also sometimes add a small addition next to a wall piece, something people can take with them, like information about the wall piece. I see they like the idea.

Social Engagement Via Street Art

Following the trail of street art, Peintre X continues to cherish his anonymity and reluctantly shows his face. His activities lie in a form of actual social engagement, through which he instigates donations to charity by giving away art.

WW: What if your artwork is taken down?
PX: That can happen. When I hang it up on the streets, the artwork belongs to the society, it’s not mine anymore. Whatever happens is ok.

WW: Do you ever think that your art could get really expensive in say, ten years from now and the people who took works from the street could sell it and get rich?
PX: Maybe, I don’t know. It doesn’t concern me, it concerns the society, the environment. I always mention on these little additions that if they take the piece, they should feel free to donate something to charity.

WW: That’s true social engagement.
PX: Yes. It’s very interesting when I get an email from people saying that they’ve donated to a certain cause, because they got my artwork. I believe that when I give an artwork and somebody takes it and then donates on this account, this is what can bring a change to the world.

The interview has been shortened and edited.

 ART.FAIR Cologne 2016, Graffiti & Street Art – Ana Bambic Kostov