Gustav Hessing (1909 - 1981)


Gustav Hessing, born in Czernowitz in 1909, moved to Vienna in the 1930s to study at the academy with Ferdinand Andri and Carl Fahringer. At the time, he was heavily influenced by Austrian Expressionism and used an intensive palette of colors, especially the works of Edvard Munch and Richard Gerstl made a formative impression. Later he worked intensely on the paintings of Paul Cézanne and the subsequent cubists, but also on surrealism and, in his late work, with the tachists. Paul Cézanne's painting, which Hessing deeply admires, exerts a lasting influence on the painter, whereby he never copies, but tries to find his own formal language. This leads to an intensive examination of the medium of color. Hessing chooses strong tones, which he places side by side like a mosaic in irregular, large fields, whereby his pictures remain largely figurative. The craft aspect plays an important role, painting technique and priming testify to great care, in some cases the artist even makes his own colors. Accordingly, Hessing takes his time with his work: he often puts pictures away so that he can continue working on them later - a process that can take several years. Each color spot is deliberately placed in its place like a building block, whereby the individual parts of the image often only grow together and take shape after longer periods of time. The space plays practically no role. The essence of Hessing results from the interplay and arrangement of the colors, through which he virtually removes his people and still lifes from space and at the same time represents them as part of a larger system.

A not always happy biography and Hessing's difficult character sometimes stand in the way of his career, but today he is considered one of the most interesting representatives of Austrian post-war painting.
(Ina Waldstein)