– Balkan Expressionism or How to Read Painted Stories
Translated by Felicia Pruteanu
I am convinced that things do not happen by chance; they only happen as part of God’s pre-established plan. Therefore, having the intention of writing about Paul Hitter, I have followed my original impulse to analyze the artist’s state as it was exactly one year ago, on 16 January 2015. This is how he begins his post on his own blog:
“I started a huge fight yesterday. With my painting. The painting of the two-faced woman. It was a creepy, crazy day and night, I tell you this. It seemed to be that type of painting that won’t come out. Every touch of brush just seems in the wrong spot, each color seems not to fit. Oh, God! So you start getting paranoid and psycho, you stop for 2 minutes, look and see nothing; you start again, paint for 2 minutes, it seems wrong. You say to yourself, ok, I will pretend nothing is wrong, just go further with it… for 10 minutes it seems you got it in your hand, but stepping back, it still looks bad. So the song for today: Led Zepellin – Since I’ve been loving you. (…) Yes, since I’ve been loving painting, I get into all kind of troubles.”
This is the precise instant when – not by chance! – I virtually visited the artist’s workshop in one of his most intimate and tensed moments that testify the Truth of his painting.
Food, Tears, Faith, Help, Heaven, God, Wife, Pizza, Hope, Goals, Fear, Love, Tradition, Land Prison, Courage, Soul…all these words are engraved on the wooden chest that TheImmigrant (painted in 2014) carries on his left shoulder. He is holding a pocket clock in his right hand, perhaps made of gold, representing his only fortune to fulfill his American dream. His chest pocket reveals his heart … to which a 5-pound weight is tied. Symbolically, on his left there is the ocean and a dying hand asking for help and the ship he probably travelled on … on his right, the American flag part of which is the real blue sky and its white stars … and then, inevitably, the Statue of Liberty. This is a piece of work that I dare to see as a complex mythology of immigration. Emigration … immigration … migration … which Paul Hitter has experienced. He was born in Bucharest, graduated “Nicolae Tonitza” Art School in 2001; then, for a few years, he went to the National University of Arts and the Faculty of the Orthodox Theology (Sacred Art) in Bucharest. After that, he left Romania (2004) to study abroad, as he confessed in one of his interviews. His first choice was Vienna, but he settled in Munich to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. “I love painting and I had to do something about this. I got a job as a waiter in a bar. This is what I did until I came back to Bucharest. However, I was able to fit in, I made friends and I started going out with them. I have to admit that most of them were foreigners.” Now the artist lives and works mostly in Los Angeles.
Both literally and figuratively, his world is full of colors. Red, yellow, green, blue, barely mixed, pervading black and white are engaged in a constantly tensed dialogue within the firm borders of a drawing, which is as expressive as it is fully mastered.
Paul Hitter confesses, “I have decided to paint humanly, choosing human topics such as love, hate, death, life, war. They are current, omnipresent, but my choice has been to paint them in an inherent style, the Balkan one. I have chosen to be well educated, but not an intellectualist, and to interact with different cultures. I have put all these ideas under the name of Balkan Expressionism since they originate in the Balkans, which was and is a modern Jerusalem. The Balkans transpire, inspire and live, and, just as my paintings, the Balkans are full of irony and color, they can make you laugh without losing their seriousness.” (If you want to read more about the Balkan Expressionism, you can access the following link, http://popartxpert.blogspot.ro/2014/03/the-balkan-expressionism-manifesto.html). These are fundamental themes which he has turned into stories. That is why the eye cannot read the canvas instantly and the impression is that he paints sequentially. You don’t need to spend a lot of time in front of any of Hitter’s paintings decoding signs and letters or reading faces in the that he builds, to be able to identify the thread that sets the story in a two-fold subjective chronological order, first that of the author’s and then that of the decoder’s. When it comes to letters, Hitter plays with his name repeatedly, hiding it in the sequentiallity of the discourse, just like the Flemish craftsmen. Where can we see his signature? In The Immigrant, it rests on the wooden chest. As a tattoo, it rests on the skin of some characters from different works such as Balkan Love, Johnny Cash, Emigrant Sex, Marilyn Monroe… or, as in the D-Day Veteran, on the right hand near the finger resting on the trigger. It can also be visible on a mere envelope, as in Rică.
Since the solo exhibition EXIL was first inaugurated at the Romanian Peasant Museum in 2010, Hitter’s painting has been said to show strokes of naïve art and street art, German expressionism and influences of Orthodox paintings. I don’t know for a fact if anyone has stated before that Paul Hitter is very similar to Marc Chagall, so similar that I wonder why Chagall doesn’t write with letters sewn on the Romanian “wall carpets” as Hitter does. Paul Hitter is sincere and his art is a manifestation of truth. Paul Hitter is profoundly original. To me, the expressionism is primarily a state of tension with a fully sensed vibration and I believe that this is the extent of his expressionism. Why Balkan?
Balkan because he combines self-referentiality with marvelous irony, revealing vulnerability through self-irony, the shocking image of the passionate love between tragedy and comedy … as it emerges in Rica, an interpretation not only cultural, but also empathic and profound of the poem (in the volume entitled GypsySongs) written by the Romanian poet, Miron Radu Paraschivescu. Balkan again because he plays the game “laugh and cry then laugh and cry again”… Balkan because his world is the sibling of a different world, a world which Ion Barbu called Isarlîk and placed right “between Good and Bad,” giving it the piece of advice, which now Paul Hitter takes almost 100 later, to « Be a hilarious, awesome borough, / And Balkan-Peninsular… »
Born on 14.12.1982
Studied at the Art Academy in Bucharest 2002-2003
Studied at the Art Academy Munich 2004-2011. Diplome with proffessor Karin Kneffel
2005- Münchener Feierwerk
2006- Blood Sweat and Tears Paintings, Cafe Usw München
2007- Yearly exhibition at the Art Academy Munich
2008- Giesinger Bahnhof Lefthanders International Day
– Yearly exhibition at the Art Academy Munich
2009- February , Austellung in Kunst Haus Schramm, Starnberg
-April , Living Room Show ,Donnersberger Str. 49 , München
– July, Yearly exhibition at the Art Academy Munich
2010- Mai, Exil- Peasant Museum Bucharest
-July Yearly exhibition at the Art Academy Munich
-September, Exil La Schigera Milano
2011-February Diplome exhibition at the Art Academy Munich
– February exhibition with Taraf de Haidouks concert, Bucharest
-February Group Exhibition Figure in Figure out, Bucharest
-March Exil goes France, Latcho Divano, Les Varietes, Marseilles
-May Balkanic Twist Festival, Bukarest
-September Balkanic! Festival Bukarest
-November Group Exhibition Silence Kills, Art yourself gallery, Bucharest
2012 February Group Exhibition Cranium, Bucharest
-March Paul Hitter exhibition Kunsthauss Schramm Starnberg
-March Paul Hitter exhibition Folk Galerie Patrizia Zewe, München
2012 August exhibition La Kumpania Festival St Ybars, France
2012 November Group Exhibition Alternative Maenlichkeit, Galerie Patrizia Zewe
2013 January, Paul Hitter exhibition Urban Drawings, Bucharest
2013 Co Producer of the documentary film Exil about the life and works of Paul Hitter
2013 May Exhibtion in Paris-Rona Hartner Concert
2013 October Exhibition in Prague National Theatre
2014 March Exhibition Artxpert Gallery Bucharest
2014 May Exhibition Gogol Bordello Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
2014 June Exhibition Paul Hitter-Marina Obradovic
2014 October Exhibition Artxpert Gallery Bucharest
2015 January Exhibition Salt Lake City
2015 January Exhibition Artxpert Pasadena
2015 April Exhibition Artxpert Bucharest
2015 April Exhibition Latcho Divano Festival Marseille
2015 June Exhibition Paul Hitter-Serena Raggi Artxpert Bucharest
2015 September Exhibition Paul Hitter Balkanic! Festival Bucharest
2010 Poster for the Band Gogol Bordello
2011 Poster for the Band Gogol Bordello
2012 T-shirt design for the Band Gogol Bordello
2012 Logo for the Rromani Music Awards Belgrade Serbia
About Marina Roman
Marina Roman is a member of the Filmmakers Union of Romania and the founder of the Romanian Film Association « Document.Art ». She is a Romanian journalist, who has specialized, since 1982, in the field of culture. She graduated from the University of Theatre and Film “I.L.Caragiale” in Bucharest (1980). She works as editor, deputy editor or general secretary for print media, radio and TV. She also has a Ph.D from Hyperion University in Bucharest, teaching Television. Her doctoral thesis is entitled: “Theatrical Ambiguity and Liturgical Finality in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Work”.
Marina Roman is active as an art critic and promoter of art and works at promoting young talented artists. Her belief is that art means emotion: only the emotion can reach for whom art is intended. Marina Roman is a published poet: her recent book of poetry, “Fascinating Medusa”, has been successfully.