A Conversation with Arik Brauer: An Insight into His Artistic Universe
If I could have interviewed Arik Brauer, the brilliant Austrian artist, musician, and poet, I would have delved deep into the enigmatic world that fuelled his captivating creations. In this fictional interview, part of the “ABCs of Life” series, we embark on a journey to explore the artistic mind and soul of this multifaceted talent. Join us as we unlock the mysteries behind his vibrant canvases, intricate melodies, and lyrical verses, painting a vivid portrait of a life rich in imagination and wonder.
Arik Brauer: A Creative Visionary
An Imagined Conversation: Exploring the Intersection of Creativity and the Mundane
Mr. Brauer, it is a pleasure having you here. Thank you for joining us.
Arik Brauer: No, the pleasure is mine. Thank you for the invitation.
You mentioned in a 2019 interview that your wife, being Hebrew, could not pronounce ‘E’ and started calling you Arik. How has this name, perhaps different from your birth name, Erich, influenced your identity and work.
Arik Brauer: The name Arik, lovingly given to me by my wife, holds special significance for me. It symbolizes not only our connection but also represents diversity and openness to different cultures and languages. This name has expanded my identity and helped me to connect more strongly with my Jewish and Hebrew heritage. In my work as an artist, it has allowed me to incorporate various cultural influences and explore new creative paths.
In your previous discussions, you’ve spoken about experiencing antisemitism in Vienna, especially during your childhood. How did these early experiences shape your world view and artistic expression?
Arik Brauer: These early experiences with antisemitism in my hometown of Vienna had a profound impact on my world view and artistic expression. They led me to critically examine the world and recognize the darker aspects of human nature. As a child, I had to confront discrimination and prejudice, which heightened my sensitivity to social injustices and the need for tolerance and diversity.
My art became a means to express my thoughts and feelings and address these issues. In my works, I often attempt to unite the beauty and magic of the world with its darker aspects. It’s my way of drawing attention to the challenges and difficulties of the world while also conveying hope and optimism. I hope that my art can contribute to breaking down prejudices and inspiring people to reflect and bring about change.
You once mentioned feeling more humiliated than afraid during difficult times in your past. Could you elaborate on how these emotions influenced your artistic journey and the themes in your work?
Arik Brauer: Yes, that’s correct. During difficult times in my past, especially during my childhood and my experiences with antisemitism, I often felt a deep sense of humiliation. These feelings of humiliation profoundly influenced my artistic journey and the themes in my work.
Humiliation is a very personal and painful emotion. It can lead to a sense of powerlessness and vulnerability. In my art, I found a way to process and express these emotions. I began to incorporate my own experiences and feelings into my works. My paintings became a means of expression for those who felt humiliated or oppressed.
The themes in my work, such as tolerance, diversity, and the unification of opposites, often reflect my belief that humanity has a collective responsibility to overcome discrimination and prejudice. I strive to infuse hope and optimism into my art and show people that we are capable of changing ourselves and positively shaping the world.
Humiliation has taught me to feel empathy for others who have had similar experiences, and this is reflected in my art. I hope that my works can inspire those who feel humiliated and convey a message of strength and resilience to them.
If you had the opportunity to speak to today’s youth, what would you say to inspire them about the future despite the current turbulent times we live in?
Arik Brauer: Dear youth, I would tell you that the world has always faced challenges but is also constantly evolving. Your creativity, commitment, and openness are the keys to bringing about positive change. Look beyond the difficulties, for in every moment, there is the potential for something new and exciting. Hold on to your dreams and shape the future according to your visions.
Mr. Brauer, how would you define multiculturalism?
Arik Brauer: Multiculturalism is like a colourful bouquet of paintings, where different colours and shapes harmoniously blend. It is the diversity of cultures that makes our world so rich and interesting.
That’s a beautiful image. Could you elaborate on that, please?
Arik Brauer: Of course, my friend. Multiculturalism is like a vibrant piece of art where each culture contributes its own color and melody. It’s an invitation to recognize and appreciate the beauty in diversity.
Do you consider yourself a multicultural?
Arik Brauer: Yes, in a way, I do. I’ve experienced so many facets of life, from different social strata to various cultures. This diversity is also reflected in my art.
If you were to paint a picture of that meadow, which flower would represent Arik Brauer, what colour, and shape would that flower be, and how prominently would it play in the meadow?
Arik Brauer: Hmmm, that’s a fascinating thought. Perhaps the flower would be a living mosaic of different colours and shapes, an expression of my diverse experiences. It would stand out in the meadow but at the same time harmonize with the other flowers.
You’ve expressed complex feelings about your Jewish identity, particularly in relation to historical events. How has this complex identity influenced your art and your perception of society?
Arik Brauer: My Jewish identity and the complex feelings associated with it have had a profound influence on my art and my perception of society. In a world shaped by historical events such as the Holocaust and antisemitism, I could not simply ignore or disconnect from my identity.
My art became a means to express my thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to my Jewish identity. I tried to integrate the history and heritage of my people into my works. Many of my paintings address the history of the Jewish people, persecution, and the hope for a better future.
At the same time, I have strived to convey messages of tolerance, unity, and humanity in my art. I believe that art has the power to build bridges between different cultures and people. It’s my way of combating prejudice and discrimination.
My perception of society has been shaped by my experiences and encounters, especially by confronting antisemitism and discrimination. I have learned to appreciate the importance of tolerance and diversity and to advocate for a world where people, regardless of their origin or religion, are respected and accepted.
Overall, my complex Jewish identity has enriched my art with depth and meaning and provided me with a platform to address important societal issues.
The topic of migration is a complex and sensitive one that has significant implications for many individuals and communities today. What is your view on this topic?
Arik Brauer: Yes, migration is a multifaceted phenomenon. In my view, it’s essential to appreciate and preserve cultural diversity. Each person carries their own story and perspective, and that can be an enrichment for society as long as we remain open and learn from each other.
Some fear that by opening up to migration, we run the risk of losing our traditions, our language and our very identity as Austrians, for example?
Arik Brauer: That is a legitimate concern, but I believe it’s possible to find a balance. Diversity can be a strength as long as we simultaneously preserve our values and traditions. The key is to promote open and respectful communication between cultures.
If you could give our readers a concrete tip, how would you suggest we approach that?
Arik Brauer: My advice would be to be open to new ideas and perspectives. Ask questions and, listen, understand the various backgrounds. At the same time, it’s important not to neglect our own values and to promote a dialogue based on respect and understanding.
On the topic of creativity, what would you say is the essence of creativity? Would you say that there is a magical essence associated with creativity?
Arik Brauer: Creativity is like magic, a magical essence that exists in each of us. It’s about seeing the world with new eyes, pushing boundaries, and looking at things in unconventional ways. Creativity is the key to capturing and expressing the diversity of life.
Interesting. Where do you think these ideas come from? And from where do you draw your inspiration?
Arik Brauer: The ideas and inspiration come from the diversity of life, from nature, people, and their stories. Everything around us is an endless source of inspiration. The art is in paying attention, observing, and making connections between seemingly unrelated things.
So, could we say that the world is full of magic waiting to be revealed? Would you say there is magic in the mundane?
Arik Brauer: Yes, absolutely. The world is full of magic, but many people overlook it in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. True art is discovering the magic in the mundane, seeing the beauty in the small details of life, and finding poetry in seemingly ordinary moments.
How would you describe beauty and its role in your art?
Arik Brauer: Beauty, for me, is a multifaceted phenomenon. In my art, I strive to create a beauty that goes beyond the superficial. It’s the beauty of the unconventional, the inexplicable, found in the unfathomable facets of life. My art aims to reveal a beauty that touches both visually and emotionally and spiritually.
I find it fascinating how you can transform catastrophic events into beautiful pieces of art. Your work, particularly “Die Blume von Tschernobyl,” is a great example of this. I’m curious to know how you are able to perceive things in such a positive light despite the circumstances.I find it fascinating how you can transform catastrophic events into beautiful pieces of art. Your work, particularly “Die Blume von Tschernobyl, (the flower from Tschernobyl)” is a great example of this. I’m curious to know how you are able to perceive things in such a positive light despite the circumstances.
Arik Brauer: In the midst of tragedies and disasters, there is often an unfathomable beauty. My art is a form of processing, a way to understand the world and its events, giving them a new perspective. Even in the darkest moments, I try to find light and hope. It’s my way of dealing with reality and presenting people with a different viewpoint.
Passion for Art
In discussing your autobiography, you’ve expressed a desire to write about fascinating people you’ve met rather than focusing solely on yourself. Could you share a particularly memorable encounter that influenced your art?
Arik Brauer: Indeed, there have been many fascinating encounters that have shaped my life and art. One that stands out in my memory was a meeting with an elderly man in Jerusalem. He shared with me his remarkable life story the highs, and lows he had experienced. His tales of survival and hope amidst challenging times deeply touched me.
This encounter inspired me to create my painting, “The Stories of the Old Man,” which depicts the various stages of his life in a surreal landscape. It reminds me of the importance of listening to and sharing the stories and experiences of other people, as they enrich us and help us see the world from different perspectives.
In one of your last interviews, you mentioned that you could only imagine not working as an artist when you no longer exist. What drives this relentless passion for art in your life?
Arik Brauer: My passion for art has driven me throughout my life and defined me. It’s not just a profession for me; it’s a way of life. Art allows me to express my thoughts, dreams, and emotions. It’s a means to understand the world around me and communicate with other people.
This relentless curiosity and the urge to explore the world in all its facets drive me. Each day brings new inspiration and ideas. Art is my way of expressing myself and telling the stories I carry within me.
Even in times of challenge and old age, I have never stopped painting and being creative. Art is my lifeblood, and as long as I breathe, I will continue to pursue my passion.