On the occasion of the opening in March 2019 in the KUNSTRAUB99 gallery, Dr. Wolfgang Till Busse, art historian, Cologne, gave the following speech.

(original in German, translated using MS translator)

Eric Hubbes’ paintings act like filters or sieves of a stream of consciousness, capturing image motifs as drifting material on a sea of thought and thus also indicating different depths of this water – from the subconscious and associative to the speculative and philosophical.

The stream of consciousness is a psychological phenomenon that has been tried to fix literaryally since the beginning of the 20th century
If you try to listen to your own thoughts continuously, you will find that there is quite a mess, and that the brain is actually behaving like a rather erratic rattling motor. Only in hindsight, usually when we tell other people, do we begin to brush through the chaos.

But one can also accept the thunderstorm of thought and associations as such and depict it in its swirls and swirls.

Famous authors who worked with this technique were James Joyce in his novel Ulysses or Artur Schindler in various stories influenced by Sigmund Freud from Vienna around 1900. It is told freely, intimates appear in an inner monologue, without blinkers and without censorship. One tries to reproduce the subjective perceptions, thoughts feelings of a character as they flow into the human consciousness. Without commentary, this stream of consciousness is presented as an inner experience. The narrator as an ordering force withdraws from the action. The surrealists have transferred this tile from the narrative of a story into poetry and visual arts: The self of the artist himself now encounters one in turbulent emotion the term coined for this was “Ecriture Automatique”, automatic writing.

Eric Hubbes’s “Gruebel” paintings overgrow the picture surface in dense drawing facture. They combine expressive abstract forms with realistic representations but also with writing.

This growth corresponds to the mentioned image-finding technique with the “Ecriture  Automatique”, which was carried on after 1945 by the tachists and abstract expressionists.

Rational control is turned off.

The work is done from the abdomen.

The picture paints itself.

And it is part of the consciousness stream that flows below the buildings of rational thought. This “painting out of the body” can be seen in the paintings on display. So what do we see in concrete terms?

All images have a drawing attitude in common. Although at first glance one recognizes abstractly moving, luminous color zones, in reality objects, plant forms, shells, bodies and animal forms and faces are visible, which are represented in linear, graphic style.

The structures on the image surface are reminiscent of figures from mathematics, so-called fractals. These were discovered in the mid-1970s by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot. The geometric patterns reflect complex computational relationships, also appear in nature, for example in marine animals. So-called almond bread quantity or Julia quantities are of spiraling nature.

Often, an object consists of several scaled-down copies of itself.

Fractals cover parts of the paintings but are joined together with figurative elements. In an older group of works a few years ago, Hubbes combined mussels and women.  These still small-format works, which are aimed at the intertwining of two things, are potentiating themselves here into infinity.

In addition, there are landscapes and forms that appear to originate from the world of fantasy films, fantasy comics or even tattoo studios. There are desert-like worlds from which UFOs could take off, but also snakes staring at you with poisonous big eyes.   A snake turns into a pistol that captures the whole image, but is only recognizable at second glance. Many of the motifs are finds from the Internet, especially the pictures shown upstairs, on which feixing, screaming or frightened faces appear.

All images combine fonts in all possible sizes and letter types with this heterogeneous image material. From capital letters to elegant calligraphy in greeting card optics, the most diverse manuscripts, like multiple personalities, tell of the flashes of thought during work in a wordy brainstorming. Like the different visual motifs, they also reflect the concrete painting situation of the artist.

When the paintings are created, the TV or the radio is running, maybe someone is present and you talk, maybe the artist has a book in his head that he has just read it.  There may be a documentary or music in the background. The paintings tell not only about an inner event, but also about the surrounding situation.  This open creative process is reminiscent of the way In which Jean-Michel Basquiat, who in the 1980s combined writing and image in an equally open process and – just as spontaneously – understood the images as snapshots of his painting situation.

Hubbes also refers to Picasso, who said he never knew where the journey would go when she started a picture. As soon as the brush hits the canvas, an adventurous journey begins. This journey can have quite cosmic dimensions when entire world models or big bang situations seem to be on the screen. Or religious aspects appear when Hubbes takes thoughts from the apocryphal Thomas Gospel and reproduces them.

The technique of acrylic painting allows Hubbes a variety of artistic expression possibilities. With a fine brush, the small-scale calligraphic parts are possible, but also in strong dilution watercolor-like effects or large-area covering parts. Due to the short dry phases of the acrylic paint, it is possible to layer several paints and layers of writing on top of each other at relatively short notice. From time to time Hubbes completes the written parts of his paintings with a felt writer. A spray varnish then makes it possible to unify the heterogeneous design. Painting itself begins at  different points at the same time, but does not follow a uniform plan. The different parts of the image are therefore gradually moving towards each other; if a certain game dries, another game can be worked on the same screen.

This intuitive growth is reminiscent of works by the painter Bernhard Schulze, who, in a similarly organically growing drawing technique, deliberately planned the images unconsciously without plan or reason – if this paradox is possible. The difference, however, is Hubbes’s openness to the figurative, to the subject matter, but also to language.  Then there is the aforementioned openness of the painting situation. Christopher Isherwood once wrote about himself as an author: “I am a Camera”. Hubbes’s images look like an Internet livestream from the studio. They are a transmission from the artist’s inner mind into the brain and eye of the beholder.

Dr. Wolfgang Till Busse

Art historian, Cologne,

In March 2019