We are pleased to present Hans Lannér’s third solo exhibition in the gallery; One Day at a Time. The exhibition presents a new series of works on paper. The artist Dan Wolgers has written a text about Hans Lannér and the exhibition.
One often comes across a common delusion that good artists are supposedly endowed with a good fantasy. In actual fact, they have no fantasy at all, if by fantasy is meant the ability to make up things. Being an artist has nothing to do with making up things, as anyone can do that without ever becoming an artist. Rather the true artist harbours the ability to portray something out of nothing, without ideas, without fantasy, with neither knowledge nor ignorance and without seeking truths or untruths. The real artist is not interested in any recipient or for that matter in any precursor, desiring only to handle the physical tools artistic skills demand (being in fact one of them at the same time).
Hans Lannér does not allow himself to be bothered any longer with what art is which lends him the quality of integrity. He is free from the nuisance of such opinions and knowledge one thinks one has about the nature of things. His desire to work in carefree ignorance allows him to get away from the compulsions and drives that otherwise restrain others. If there were a need that fires him then it would be the need for subordination to the motive, pastels and brushes. But perhaps that is in itself a compulsion.
Lannér has abandoned everything in order to ponder in splendid isolation on light, how it falls onto a wall of a house, for example, or onto an image of a sun-dancing figure in a street or how the backlight eats away at the tree-trunks or curtains, and how the light seems to drown all visible objects and every sound, leaving only fleeting after-images and echoes behind. Light is needed to see and paint but especially to play around with the motive – no light, no motive and no motive, no painting.
When daylight and climate allow Lannér to work outside, off he goes and needs only to step outside his door wherever he happens to be and there he finds his archaic topic – the house which acts as a reservoir for his memories and irrepressible wish to paint and draw. And when the light fails and the temperature falls, Lannér stays indoors or travels down south to the light, warmth and work. Mindless of where, for houses are to be found everywhere, he tucks his working material under his arm.
Houses and Lannér work as communicating vessels, just as the child and adult within him do as well, and like the past and present (the two most interesting communicating vessels that exist). All these vessels operate in conjunction with each other through the medium of his pastels and paper.
Like the conductor, who faces away from his public and in the midst of the roar and din of the music created manages to keep the musicians tied to their instruments, Lannér turns his back on his onlookers, and in his silence and seclusion is intent on pinning his brushes to the paper. The result can possibly be seen as a score or even as notes for music or a dance. The degree of abstraction in the paintings is considerable, without being less unintelligible than a public reading for someone who can’t read or listening to music for anyone unable to read a score. The viewer sees in any case (as with eyes closed) what it is or where it is – it’s everywhere, because houses spring up all over the place and the sun shines equally on everything and everyone.
One of Lannér’s strengths is that he no longer bothers with what is good or bad – he has wriggled away from such irrelevant ideas a long time ago, just as a child manages to get away from being told off at the table to run off outside and play. To play as a child is about the most serious thing one can do in life. Lannér obviously remembers the child’s (painfully) open mind, the constant stream of ever-changing and random interest in the visual world, which wipes out the distinctions of what is valid from what is not, because everything that exists is interesting. So that is why it is natural that among the first words a small child utters are Light! and Look! The child is stating the pre-conditions, namely that light is required in order to see and to paint what one is looking at. It is also quite natural that those who are unable to blend into their surroundings, or never can experience the congruence between visual impressions and feelings (Light, Look!), become artists. Without a capacity for fantasy, dissimulation or making things up, they are doomed to describe the external and internal state of things as they are perceived and to note down, as Lannér does, visual impressions and feelings piece by piece, one at a time.
Every day is new and each day brings about a fresh start – Lannér is devoid of a pictorial memory and so has to stand in front of the motive to paint, day after day, one day at a time.
Just look at the sequence of these paintings and pause on the words of Dante “doubting pleases me no less than knowing”. Doesn’t this sequence provide a wonderful argument for the virtue of doubting, that it is worth just as much as knowing? Note how trying and careful Lannér is as he takes on the motive and pre-requisites of working, of his art, without any attempt at self-indulgence. Is it not so that it is his art that confirms the notion that the true artist lacks not only fantasy but also knowledge and can only aim to portray the world as it appears to him? Light, shadows and volumes; the motive becomes dissolved and abstracted. Lannér reflects (on) the light and volumes, without value-judgements, and he has no care in the world to be contradicted, because every objection of his position only strengthens and frees him.
There is nothing shady with Lannér, nothing is twisted or contorted. It is all light, life and courage.
Dan Wolgers is an artist and member of The Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Translation to English: Nigel Moore