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Alexandre Daletchine about Hannu Prinz

Hannu Prinz’s creative development remains closely linked with profound emotional matters. Thus the titles of his artworks uncover deep attachments to intimate stories. His multifaceted creative process, which sometimes ironically refers to various periods of art history and is greatly inspired by music and poetry, results in arrangements that are marked by strong visual effects. For his latest series, Prinz explores the properties of leather by transforming it into essential pictorial substance. The sculpted surfaces of the canvases tend to blur the limits between physical presence and the printed image.

By choosing to employ handcrafted leather, the artist unveils an individual technique regarding the notion of painting. The colors perform with deafness and absorb the light that becomes part of the décor – this sculptural method complies with the impulse to paint without painting. Having struggled with severe sight damage since his early childhood, the Berlin-based artist tempts fate through physical relationship with his art and tactile materials. Consequently, certain works demonstrate a strong gestural approach reminiscent of the tradition of gestural abstraction. The process of painting therefore becomes a footprint of body language, similar to dancing and action painting. Hidden beneath each composition are hints of concrete forms that spread from within and the painterly movements are stimulated by the research carried out by artists, such as Raimund Girke.

The representation of everyday objects, which surround the artist, functions as an idiom for a story. The forms emerge as symbols of the common mind and tend to disappear within the canvasses, dissolving into a new picture. Prinz creates deliberately patterned arrangements to reveal the importance of the ornament, a technique that plays a similarly substantial role as seen in artworks by Andy Warhol, Christopher Wool, Rudolf Stingel or Anselm Reyle. What’s more, familiar shapes such as those of mural surfaces, wallpapers or parquetted floors paraphrase the high meaning of taste. Following the footsteps of Bertrand Lavier the artist clearly ironizes the idea that painting is subsequent of pure aesthetics.


The admiration for Paul Klee’s works brought Prinz to meaningful inspirations. However, while Klee used to distinguish imagery and writing, Prinz tends to mix the two – while poetry turns out to be a pictorial matter, letters and numbers appear analogous to images. In particular, works that combine language with images produce a new complex pictorial language. Prinz’s work is also greatly influenced by music, which is a common place for emotional expression. Just as he values letters and numbers as images, he values the separate melodies and lyrics equally to the overall song. Lastly, the tradition of German romanticism leaves an additional significant mark in his practice that exudes an overall melancholic tone driven by music and self-composed poems.

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