Tree & Leaf Interview with Bjorn Bauer

ART, INTERVIEWDusty GilpinComment

We are very excited to get back into the swing of things with our print shows! Last month we took off to host the Grow-A-Beard party, and now we're excited to premier another great local artist! Our friend, Bjorn Bauer, is an amazing artist that is a full time art teacher, printer, and is a regular at Drink & Draw. His art is eerily beautiful. I wouldn't call it dark, but I would defintely call it complex on multiple levels. The line work and detail is extremely precise, the figures are uniquely ambient, and his printwork is technically excellent.  Everytime I see his pieces I know that there is more to the work than what meets the eye through print or paint. It's always a test when I print a poster for another screenprinter. I'm hyper critical of my print work daily, but when I know I'm printing for someone familiar with the medium, I have to be extremely attentative to every detail. Especially with work like Bjorn's where the line work is acutely fine and detailed.

 We can't wait for you to meet Bjorn and see his art! The opening will be during LIVE on the Plaza this Friday from 7-11pm. The art will be availble to see and purchase all month long. Don't miss out on the prints, there will only be 25 made! In the meantime, check out this interview we got to do with Bjorn about his live and art! See you Friday!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and when did you start doing art?

I was born in Germany and grew up in Southeast Asia. I've been drawing for as long as I can remember, Art is all I've ever really wanted to do.

What influenced your art early on? What most influences your art now?

Comic books, airplanes, and movies were an early inspiration. Music became more of a creative fuel for me in high school and it still is. Now, I look frequently to the beginnings of the modern art movement for inspiration, in particular the expressionists. I think Gustav Klimt may have been the greatest artist of all time. Something I love to do, especially when I need a spark, is to read a biography of a great artist. I read through a book on Van Gogh a few years ago and that had a profound effect on me, so I'm more intentional about trying to understanding the context in which these artists worked.


Furthermore, how has Oklahoma City influenced your art?

I'm not sure if there is any overt influence but I think the place you call home always shapes your art in some way.

Explain your thoughts behind the cloth like wrappings your subjects adorn.

The extensive use of wrapped cloth in my work is something that happened organically. I used it in a few pieces without really thinking about it, then found myself continually fascinated by the technical challenge of drawing fabric from my imagination, but also the symbolic and expressive possibilities it presents. It's a great way to add tension or movement to a figure illustration, so there are purely visual reasons for the way I've used this motif.  It's also an interesting symbol for something like pride or arrogance, but at the same time we think of cloth as something that provides warmth and security. In many cases I think it can carry a lot of spiritual meaning. Another reason I think this came about in my work is that I've always been hesitant to place the people I draw into a specific time frame; drawing people wearing contemporary clothing has always felt incredibly awkward to me for some reason.


Do you listen to music when you produce art, if so, who or what do you listen to?

I'm very passionate about music. I'm not a musician myself but I spend time everyday listening to and reading about music. I like a wide range: from Thelonious Monk to Tschaikovsky to the Roots to Godflesh. My favorite band of all time is The Smashing Pumpkins, they just have this vast body of work that encompasses such an incredible range of sound and feeling. Currently I'm listening to a lot of experimental metal and instrumental soundscape music. An inspiring recent find is a very talented UK cellist/soundscape artist who goes by the name Petrels. My favorite record of 2013 is Teethed Glory And Injury by an Irish metal band called Altar Of Plagues, it's absolutely heart-breaking. I'll be picking out produce at Sprouts with this in my headphones and it will push me to the verge of an emotional collapse, it's amazing!

How has teaching influenced your work?

Teaching other people about art, in my case high school students, really helps keep me engaged artistically. When a student is stuck or needs to see how to draw paint something, the best way to show them is to actually do it, so I get lots of practice that way. My students are very creative and in many cases way ahead of where I was as an artist their age, so just working with my students is inspiring. Also, I frequently do the assignments that I give them, which helps me do things I normally wouldn't be motivated to do. More than anything, running six art classes five days a week makes me want to make more art for myself, so I think that has helped make me more prolific.

Where can people find more information about your art?

My website would be the best place to keep up with what I do, but people can also join my email newsletter or follow me through the usual social media platforms (Facebook - Instagram - Twitter). I post a lot of process images so anyone who is interested can see my work take shape.

Thanks for the insight on your art and work, Bjorn!