Book Reviews Non-Fiction
Hans Sisa, Dämonie und
Poesie, Malerei - Graphik - Skulpturen
By Jay Quabeck
Courage, guts! Yes, guts. That is what it takes to paint like Hans Sisa in an art world that is more concerned with superficiality, with creating short-lasting installations, with cartoonish images, with slogan art, with badly composed and lighted photography posing as art. It seems to me that now there is very little real art in art land, a world driven by collectors, often of dubious background and lack of art knowledge, by auction houses and art museumspublic and privateall more interested in blockbusters to bring in audiences and revenue rather than present inspiring visual images. Hans Sisa, therefore, is that rare animal who still cares about splashing paint on canvas or watercolor on paper.
Having just viewed and read the Monograph - Hans Sisa, Dämonie und Poesie (Demons and Poetry) published in Austria by Art Larson, it must be said right up front that here we are witness to LOVE: the love of art and its creation, and the love of a devoted life companion who has published this book as a gift for Sisa's 60th birthday. It is visually magnificent, and thanks to the publisher's efforts, contains text in four languages. Hence it is highly accessible to anyone who loves real art.
Retired soprano Sophia Larson, Sisa's wife of many years, now partially devotes herself to promoting her husband's work and we are the benefactors of her long hours of putting the monograph together. It is a grand achievement.
Sisa's work falls in that school liberally described as expressionistic, though hints of impressionism and abstraction are also visible. He has been compared to fellow countryman, Oskar Kokoschka, in his approach to painting. But, do not make the mistake to think that this painter is an imitator. Sisa is own man. He goes far deeper into the psyche of mankind than his compatriot. At times one feels there is too much despair in his feelings about the savagery of his fellow human beings, too much anger to look closely at his work. But, then suddenly we see a very different side of him, a lyric side that draws us inside his work and makes us return to the angry images for a longer look and deeper appreciation. There is even a sense of humor in some of his work, including paintings of the Sisa-Larson cats, the dog Karli, and 'The Boss', namely Sisa's mother. We also get to see Sisa, the world traveler, with portraits of many cities and societies, including a black and white sketch of Toronto in 1987.
The book has been divided into several sections to show us the many sides of Sisa. There is the painter, the watercolorist, the cityscape visualizer, the portraitist, the sketch artist, the stage designer, the graphic designer, though not necessarily in this order. Unfortunately, the Index is not given in English, hence my brief reference to the variety of subjects covered in 263 pages, the majority in full color.
While one may at first coil back from the often stark images Sisa creates, their lush color, broad strokes, and forceful execution soon overcome all hesitation to look at these images. This is a painter who knows who he is, what he stands for and knows how to bring his ideas to the canvas or onto paper. We sense no vacillation. This books shows that Sisa truly has guts full of purpose.
Click on each of the five images above to enlarge
Explore Canada, The Adventurer's Guide by Marion Harrison and Peter Thompson, has been moved to Archives
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