“Generally, I believe that good art is free from explanations, and the viewers should be able to find their own stories anyway.”
In his work, Peter Tauber focuses on the different appearances of decay and the associations this evokes. His process is a search for the ideal form of incompleteness, while finding a certain completeness within the decay itself.
The timeless and universal character of comics provides the artist with a great amount of freedom and opens up a new perspective. To Tauber, they form the ideal raw material for dealing with topics like fear, confusion, loss of identity and hero cults. In his paintings, the world of superheroes is turned upside down, balancing between chaos and order.
Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Peter Tauber currently lives and works in Vienna where he attended classes at the Academy of Fine Arts with Professor Daniel Richter. Since then, he has shown his work both nationally and internationally.
Q. Can you share your inspiration for using various comic motifs in your artworks?
First, I want to use these motifs as they are very relatable. These comic motifs are worldwide famous, so anyone who ever got in touch with pop culture can relate somehow to them. These motifs, patterns, and characters are an important part of our visual culture. In addition, I also want to challenge myself by using somebody else’s style and somehow making it my own, with my individual touch to it.
Q. How did you get started exploring the completeness and incompleteness of decay? What does it mean to you?
In the early stage of my work, I made mostly sculptures out of scrap metal. Also, I´ve built furniture and lamps using things I found in junkyards and flea markets. I've always been fascinated by the rusty surface of iron parts, so I experimented a lot with painting with acid on iron plates and generating random patterns by oxidation. It's all about the contrast between creation and destruction and finding the beauty in it. This contrast is the focus of my work.
Q. Your paintings have very bright and contrasting colours. What is your approach to using colours? And how did you decide on them?
It's a funny thing... I'm colour blind, so most of the colours I see, look totally different for the others. I try to find the colours to reflect the style of the paper material of the comic books from the 80s. I love to spend time choosing, mixing and combining them to serve this purpose.
Q. Could you describe your art creation process?
It all starts with a collage or a sketch. I usually first plan the composition and the motives, including choosing the size of the artwork. Then I mix the paint and choose my brushes. The rest happens naturally on the canvas.
Q. Why do you say that comics are the ideal raw materials for the topics that you are addressing?
Because of the contradictions that we often find between these stories in the comics and real life, I think it is really interesting to take it as the basis of my art creations, as it provides an ironic backdrop to the real world we live in.
Q. Since you are examining the concept of decay, how are comics related to decay then?
I make them relate. I have an ambivalent attitude towards mainstream comics. On the one hand, I´m amazed by its aesthetics; on the other hand, the stories and their morals annoy me so much that it's a fantastic feeling to disfigure them in an appealing way.
Q. What are your approaches to deconstructing conventional comic figures?
The Duckburg stories are for kids, it's ok, but they all have a touch of weird 50s American dream society propaganda with all the bad cliche about women, people of colours and so on. The superhero stories show us a world where the people are guided and protected by good, strong and handsome guys who triumph over the bad ones. However, in reality, the problem is that the cult of heroes leads people in real life to support controversial political forces and populist propaganda.
My approach is to relook at these figures and try to reinterpret them through my work.
Q. You seem to be expressing undesirable emotions such as fear and confusion. What exactly are the emotions you want to evoke in your audience and why?
The only thing I want to evoke is a kind of confusion in a positive way. I put my thoughts and emotions into my paintings, but I don’t necessarily have to be understood by the viewers. I also love when my works evoke emotions and associations for others in a completely different way. Generally, I believe that good art is free from explanations, and the viewers should be able to find their own stories anyway.
Q. Besides paintings, you also have some sculptural works. Could you elaborate on your artistic approach for that?
Creating something nice from a pile of trash is a lot of fun, just like looking at it afterward and discovering all the elements. If you think about it, this process of building one artwork from pieces of fragments is the opposite of what I do as a painter - in which I deconstruct existing figures into pieces.
Q. How do you think your experience in the Academy of Fine Art Vienna shaped your artistic practice today?
Studying art doesn't make anybody a good artist. It only gives some tools to make things better and easier. It helped me to take what I do seriously and gave me the opportunity to focus on it. The biggest advantage of it was the access to the network of my fellow artists.
Q. What is a superhero to you? And how is this reflected in your artworks?
I don't believe in the role of the superhero. I believe in civil courage and the empowerment of marginalised groups. There will never be a superhero that takes over our own responsibility. It's why my works are all free from superheroes.
Q. How did you get started in art? And how did you find out your medium of interest?
I started as a kid, like everyone else. It only got serious when I started a new life in Vienna. As I suddenly had more time than before, I had an urgent need to do something creative. I tried many things and worked freer at that time because it was only for fun. Nowadays, even though I am still interested in other media, I mostly paint because I want to keep my focus on it.
Q. Are there any artistic approaches/ areas you would like to try out in the future? If yes, why?
I would like to work a bit more with metal someday, learning casting techniques and so on. Making kinetic sculptures is also really fun for me.