THE PRETENDERS : Bernhard Buhmann | Solo Exhibition

15 September - 28 October 2014

Changing faces like changing clothing, how often do the queens and kings of selfies on social media change their profile pictures?  


“They are screaming grotesque figures with masks which they don’t dare to take off (maybe they even don’t know that they could) but always ready to switch.” –Bernhard Buhmann


 There is a certain amount of freedom in being able to alter the way you are perceived, but the question is how long can any of us keep this up for, and at what cost?


Carbon 12 is proud to present Buhmann’s second solo show, The Pretenders, characters of his creation as they preform their lives for all to see. 


The inhabitants of the paintings tell an abstract story as they cavort across the canvas. Who are they and what makes them what they are? Each painting has its own fiction, but when seen together they allude to a much larger issue. Using his background in sociology and painting from the University of Applied Arts and the University of Vienna, Buhmann explores issues of how to find ones self in social and individual life in times of uncertainty and rapids change.


The atmosphere is light hearted with color and the child like construction of his characters, yet there is something deeper Buhmann is hinting at.  His creatures are unique in their imagined personalities and garb, yet each shares an appearance of constant flux; they are struggling to control shape.  


Within social systems and maintaining personal identities we are asked to fulfill the greater demands of public life. We must play every roll that is expected of us, and all at the same time. The characters are an entertaining to tragic fallout of the rigors of our contemporary society on the individual.


Everyone is pretending. Parallel worlds are orchestrated to depict odd, contradictory creations. Take for example the painting, Elvis, consisting of an anthropomorphized bird with two legs, and a pompadour to mirror, the American singer, Elvis’s famous hair. What logic can one use to draw a purpose for this creatures’ unfortunate anatomical make up? There is irony at work here. The creatures are trying desperately to show only their assumed glamour’s and exiting personalities. Their biggest fear is not the personal taxation of social upkeep but commonality.  Consequently in their daily struggle for uniqueness they loose touch with their authentic individuality and ability to emphasize with others. Masked and clown-esque the creatures parade in their outfits, bidding for our attention.