Interview with Raffael Bader

"My work deals with topics that are very personal, but are articulated in a visual language that doesn't need punctuation to be read." Read our latest interview with Raffael Bader, and discover the processes, inspirations and ideas behind his abstract and atmospheric art.

By Rise Art | 12 Jul 2021

Raffael Bader makes art as a reaction to his surroundings. Merging the real and the imagined, the familiar and the unrecognisable, Raffael encourages the viewer to consider their experiences and understanding of the world around him when viewing his work.

Although each work of art is entirely personal to Raffael, created from the images and memories that exist in his mind, the artist believes that the visual language of painting can open his art up to "a wide area of encounter". Discover more about Raffael's art and his journey as an artist below.


pink coastal sky by Raffael Bader


Tell us a bit about your practice. How would you describe the work you create?

My painting is a reaction to my perception of the world. At best, the reaction of the viewer leads to an expansion of their perception. The world in which we live presents us with challenges every day, which implies a constant reaction to external circumstances. One of my reactions is the one that makes me create pictures. In doing so, I use the landscape that I have absorbed and that I continue to absorb. My attention here is on the ordinary and the extraordinary, the near and far, the pleasant and the dangerous. The result is a visual language that is abstract and that enables me to transform the principles just described into concrete images.

There are different ways of doing this. Either I start with sketches that capture an idea for a picture that I will tie in with later. Or I start directly on paper or canvas and a picture emerges from a spontaneous impulse. An ongoing process is created, one picture leads to the next and mutual influence takes place.

What do you want to get across with your paintings?

I would like to invite the viewer to pause and to make new experiences in comparison with their own experiences. My work deals with topics that are very personal, but are articulated in a visual language that doesn't need punctuation to be read. I think this combination of personal internal processes and visual abstraction can create a wide area of encounter. Reflection, too.


come near the purple mountain by Raffael Bader

Are your landscapes based on real places, or taken from your imagination?

These are landscapes that are written down in my body and mind over time. They are landscapes that exist, in the past and in the present. And sometimes I rediscover them later in the future.

When I travel or stroll through the city's parks and forests, I soak up the landscape as it liquefies from its physical state. Sometimes I capture it directly with a few lines. Take notes. It often sloshes into my subconscious without being noticed.

Has painting always been your primary medium?

Yes. I write occasionally. Make music. But painting is the medium that predominates. Extends over my life and accompanies me from childhood.


lakeside II by Rafael Bader


How has your practice evolved since graduating?

The institution of the art college should give you the freedom to develop yourself personally. But the request to do so lets you quickly reach your limits. Finally, I wanted to present a result that proves my development. It was just an interim result. I think studying art is a door opener and artistic development is continuous.

Right after graduating, I felt a strong need to break with the preceding. The suggested shapes and indifferent colours were exchanged for hard contours and intense colours. For a short time, paintings emerge that moved in the direction of pop art. I wasn't really happy with the results, but it felt like a necessary development. As so often, what is discarded and what is newly found later form a symbiosis. In the meantime, routine (i.e. what I have learned and internalised) has combined with the urge to develop further in a good relationship and I have achieved a fertile working basis.


by the river by Raffael Bader

What's an average day like in your studio?

I'm usually in the studio between 9 and 10 am and finish work around 5 and 6 pm, Monday through Friday. That is the rough time frame. There is a good bike path from my apartment to the studio that leads through parks. I arrive. Make a list of the things to do. Answer emails. I take care of organisational and bureaucratic tasks. Then the actual creation: painting. Continue the old, start the new. Rethink colours, then superimpose them. Lines that form into shapes and assert something that needs to be checked. And music, I listen to a lot of music while working. Coffee in between. Lunch break. My studio is on a busy street in the west of Leipzig, there are a few good restaurants and cafés. I enjoy sitting on the street for lunch, with someone or alone, and watching the goings-on. I share the studio with other artists so that conversations arise in between. An exchange about artistic work and private matters. Then there is also the doubt, the rejection, the questioning, alternating with the certainty, the invention, the answers. Like that.

What/Who are your key influences? Have these changed over the years?

What influences me the most is my immediate environment, my family, my friends, the people in my environment and the environment itself: The landscape that was consciously formed and the landscape that seems to grow together into something at random. In addition, there are numerous artists who have influenced me and who influence me. They are painters, but also writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc. I keep my senses open to new impressions and do not necessarily follow individuals. In the field of painting, there are sometimes individual painting and picture ideas, sometimes the artist's personal handwriting. What impresses me, what opens up new perspectives, depends on my current situation and changes continuously.


remaining sand III by Raffael Bader


Who are some Rise Art artists with work you're enjoying at the moment?

Claire Cansick, Renata Fernandez, Baldvin Ringsted, Max Naylor, Glib Franko, Charlotte Roseberry and Genevieve Leavold. To name a few.


Are you currently working on any exciting new projects?

A friend of mine is doing a project in Würzburg, Germany, which deals with the decreasing visibility of the cultural landscape in the pandemic. UNSEEN shows work by various designers, artists and creatives on posters around the city. There will also be an exhibition about it. Another project I'm looking forward to is a group exhibition with three other artists in Leipzig. After a long time, it has become easier to do physical exhibitions again. This exhibition is funded by the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony. A new book project is also in the works, but I'm not going to tell you about it yet.

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