Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert, Inc.
"Peter Stauss’s imagery escapes a concrete narrative, weaving social and art-historical references with depictions of disenfranchised, self-mutilating hippies. The overall feeling of these paintings is nothing short of apocalyptic." —Andrew Marsh, Flash Art, 10/04
As much as we fear the end, it beckons us. In America, The End Times have become big business. A predominantly Christian nation, we interpret the confusion of rapidly changing lives, and an uncertain future, in biblical Armageddon. The final book of the New Testament, The Revelation, is made the stuff of popular novels, television shows, movies. Some see a prophetic nature to these works, but most of the Nation, given a more ecumenical, even Gnostic interaction with religion, are intrigued by these forays as explorations of the unknowable.
The Book of Revelation has a narrative, seemingly, but no linear telling to reveal it. In Peter Stauss works—electric with the end of knowable culture, of knowable experience, of knowable art—the narrative content is analogously discontinuous. His canvases tempt us with familiar images, some might call them archetypes—saints, soldiers, revolutionaries, heroes, villains, burnouts. But these characters, in contradiction to what is expected of characters, power no plot, no intrigue about the nature of humanity. They are whirling, disassociated from each other or anything else. The colors are vivid, slashing. His sense of paint is vibrant with technology. Our contemporary cataclysm is portrayed with the brash hues and compositional anarchy of a mall whipped into a tornado.
Of course, the end appeals not only to our fear, but to an inherent expectation of heaven, nirvana, happiness (depending on one’s outlook). The self-destruction that we manifest, that Stauss captures with startling alacrity, is driven by our own illusion of paradise. Perhaps, in this hyper-density of stories, we can find some perfection. The perfect void of a solar system smashed by a black hole. But just as likely, Stauss puts forth that our efforts towards a divine existence have created … this. That we’re as close to heaven as we’re going to get. That we have witnessed, in the words of the New Testament, tomorrow.