Peter Backhaus and his Archetypical Expressionism
“My art is uncompromising and direct. It is unique in its poetic, musical expression. The heart is its abode. It connects with the soul’s longing for freedom, co-creation and participatory commitment. It is created in the space between rational thinking and unconscious feeling and arises from spontaneous inspirations, but ends up in a long, laborious work process. I call my style ‘Archetypical Expressionism’”.
Dr. Peter Schütt, the famous German writer and art critic once wrote, “Painting is poetry with colors. This applies to Peter Backhaus more than any other artist. The abstract painter moves like a pilot in the immeasurable sea of colors and explores the shallows and hidden reefs below sea level. In his paintings you feel the spray whirled up behind the fast ships. Looking at his works, reminds me of the great Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who published “Ostseen” (Baltic Seas).”
Peter Backhaus was born in 1947 in Germany. In 1968 he emigrated to Sweden where he studied philosophy, psychology and art. In Gothenburg he became an associate Professor of art and the owner of an art school. He lives and works in Gothenburg and Berlin.
For Backhaus painting means survival, exploring his creativity is a way to keep his mental health. His paintings are internal images. They come from a level beyond time and space, beyond the personal ego, where complete stillness and total chaos coexist. They are like layers in the archetypal landscape which are deep inside of each person, regardless of culture or color.
Backhaus’s art unites and spreads optimism regarding the human psyche’s ability to bring about change. Art has helped him to process his personal German history. His exhibition, “Unwanted lives” in 1996 was his final settlement with Nazi Germany, shown in different Swedish museums. After that performance, he felt liberated from the past. It was a catharsis, the end of his mourning process. Now his inspiration comes from his inner joy, not being drifted into the common sentimental sweetness.
He works uncontrolled and spontaneously, trying to remain in the ‘now’ as long as possible, in emptiness, without meaning, or sense. On the outside it may look different; every spectator has her/his own world to associate to; their own pair of glasses give them ideas and they remember when being confronted with his mountains of scratched, dripping paint. To him it’s just color and energy. He combines so many essential, beautiful elements: freedom, personal growth, body, mind, feeling, decision making, ecstasy, meditation, reflection, introspection…
He always wants to start from zero. “No matter how long you have practiced, you are always a beginner.” (Zen quote) While he had this kind of thinking his whole adult life, he can’t deny after almost fifty years of painting he has some experience that he can’t simply put aside when he starts something new.
His work has been shown in different Swedish and German galleries and museums. Since 2019, he is represented by Pashmin Art Consortia on international level and has participated in numerous museum exhibitions in China. In October 2021 he participated in Florence Biennale. In 2022 his new series of artworks will be exhibited at Art Archive Museum (Beijing) and the art fair Art Beijing. A book is also planned to be published about his life and art.