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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Adolf Bierbrauer

The World Thinks It Is a Joke While the Painter Paints Without
a Brush, the World Is Falling Apart, and Yet Comes Together
What Works, 2008, Adolf Bierbrauer.
(Whew, probably the longest title I've ever encountered.)
Balzac, bitumen, tinfoil and
wire on a wooden pedestal,
1999, Adolf Bierbrauer,
Virtually every artist has a unique combination of interests, skills, training, past experiences, quirks, and other personality traits (both good and bad). Because they reside more or less peacefully within a single creative individual, they make that artist an amazingly original, God-endowed, human masterpiece. Some combin-ations are fairly common and seem to partner one with another. Wit and wisdom are an example, to the point they've almost been married into a single word--"wittenwisdom." However, in rare instances, the combinations are sometimes so peculiar (for lack of a better word) that the artist ends up creating such strange pieces that, while they may not be great art by anyone's definition, they more than make up for any aesthetic deficiencies by way of their sheet originality. The German painter, Adolf Bierbrauer was one such artist.

Adolf Bierbrauer, Self-portrait,
Bierbrauer was born in 1915 and spent nearly all his life in the Dusseldorf/Hamburg area of Germany. He produced his first still-life at the age of fifteen in 1930. Today he's often referred to as a conceptual artist. If that's the case, then he could very well be the first modern-day painter to be so designated. Moreover, Bierbrauer was also a concert pianist, and a physician, beginning his studies of medicine in 1937, completing his degree during WW II in 1943, only to be sent by the Nazi's to the Eastern Front just as it was collapsing in chaos. There Bier-brauer was captured by the Russians and sent to Transcaucasia to build roads. During his imprisonment, Bierbrauer also painted documentary images of geological invest-igations of the terminal moraines. The pris-oners also worked on archaeological excav-ations of Medean graves. Bierbrauer oppos-ed these efforts. As a result, his paintings were forbidden. Instead he was ordered to create portraits of the guards. As a painter with such a broad background coupled with such a diverse set of circumstances, it's little wonder Bierbrauer has come to be considered one of the most original artistic figures ever produced by the German nation.

Desperate Search of the Inner Face,
somnambulistic work, Adolf Bierbrauer
After the war, in 1949, Bierbrauer went back to Düsseldorf, then to Hamburg where he started as a volunteer physician at the University Hospital. From 1951 to 1953 he worked as psychotherapist specializing in hypnosis treatments. The first of his hypnosis paintings emerged. His public protests against electroshock therapy and insulin shock treatments lead to his being fired from hospital in 1954. Later that year, Bierbrauer received medical certification to establish himself as a general practitioner. From that point on, Bierbrauer specialized in nervous and psychosomatic disorders. He enhanced the therapies by also applying hypnosis. Bierbrauer painted the hypnosis images based upon stories and pictures from his patients in trance. Given the lingering psychological trauma from the war, he had no shortage of patients.

Paintings from retrieved from tormented minds.
After 1960, the first of Bierbrauer's somnambulistic paintings emerged. A heart attack in 1965 forced him to end his practice of medicine. Starting in 1973, Bierbrauer began working full time as a freelance artist painting lessons for children at his home. These lessons later became the first Waldorf kindergarten in Düsseldorf. He also worked as a pianist in Waldorf schools. Beginning in 1990, at the age of seventy-five, Bierbrauer began painting that which he called Müllkunst (trash art, top and below). 1998 Bierbrauer moved to an anthroposophically oriented senior living facility (that's way too complicated to explain here) where he continued to paint. In 2000, his works were presented to the general public.

Anti-Christianity Without Anxiety, 1999, Adolf Bierbrauer
After some time, life in the anthroposophic senior home became intolerable to him. During unannounced renovations in his care rooms several pieces of his art were destroyed. Bierbrauer decided in 2006, at the age of ninety-one, to change senior houses whereupon he moved to the Kasierwerther Diakonie, Ratingen. In 2012, Bierbrauer saw his hypnosis works on exhibit at the Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf. A few months later, in the autumn of the same year, Bierbrauer died of heart failure at the age on ninety-seven.

The Inkpot of Tiepolo, 2008, Adolf Bierbrauer

Goethe Heard in the Self-
Conscious Ego, the Breath
of the Living Idea, 1999,
Adolf Bierbrauer

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