Stan Bert Singer, based in Vienna, is an artist who, in the course of his artistic development, made some important turns, learned, and invented his own very interesting techniques. For some years now, he has been painting in oil and using Renaissance painting technics of the old masters. His way of working requires a lot of patience and care, planning and structure. We would like to introduce him and his works of art and are curious to know what moves him in his work.
LSA: Welcome Stan Bert Singer to this interview. We are very pleased that you have taken the time to answer our questions.
With pleasure, it is also a pleasure for me to give an insight into my work.
LSA: In your biography, you outline your artistic career. Vienna has been a city of art for centuries. To what extent has the city shaped its path as an artist?
It is true that Vienna has always had and sell has a rich cultural offering. I had an academic education
in architecture and in drawing and painting at a Viennese university.Vienna has had only a very limited influence on my actual career in terms of artistic subjects.
LSoA: What were her first own attempts in art?
That is a very interesting question. It was a self-portrait, I think I was somewhere around 8-10 years old at this time. It’s interesting because if I may analyse myself here, it has to some extent determined my current work. The work on the portrait and the human body have always been my greatest interest.
LSA: Your artistic education began with the study of architecture as you represent it in your vita. In this context, you also mention the Vienna Secession. Is there still a connection to architecture in your contemporary works of art and what is the Secession’s significance for you?
No, my works make no reference to the Secession or to architecture.The Vienna Secession is merely a local reference point, as I studied architecture and drawing and painting at the Vienna University of Technology in the immediate vicinity.
LSA: You describe yourself that there was a turning point in your development as an artist. This is a very interesting point, because there are certainly some artists who experience breaks or turns in their artistic career. What was the trigger for this and how did you deal with it?
Yes, this turning point was around 1999, let me explain it like this: After several years of experiencing with various means of artistic expression, including abstract ones, I realised that there are three essential criteria that make a really good painter. These are mastery of technique, exquisite expression of the subject and, of course, the message of the painting. I reflected on my own work and realised that my works did not meet these criteria sufficiently until then, especially with regard to the technical mastery. Therefore I decided to learn from the old masters.
LSA: What exactly fascinates them about painting with oil as opposed to the techniques they used before?
Well, I have always painted in oil, but especially since 1999 I have been studying intensively the techniques of the old masters. Here the level of mastery is really very high. It is easy to quickly paint a landscape in alla prima or to bring a nude as a semi-abstract painting in oil on canvas. That’s not a great thing. But to really get involved with the details of seeing and the actual surfaces of objects and bodies is a real challenge about seeing, technique and realisation. This involvement fascinates me in painting in oil and especially in the “old master technique”.
LSA: Before we deal with the moves of your art, I would like to ask you about your painting techniques. Where exactly do they come from and from which time? Are there prominent representatives of these techniques?
I am very pleased that you are so interested in the details. I have been developing my painting technique over the last few years and at the beginning of my work with the study of the old master’s technique, I used a layering technique, it’s very short explained the overlaying of colours. However, in order to achieve truly outstanding results and depth effects, you must master the mastery of the glazing technique. It is very elaborate and time-consuming, but there is no comparable technique where you can achieve an equivalent painterly effect. Therefore I studied the painting style of the Renaissance, especially the works and technique of Leonardo da Vinci. If you have understood the glazing technique and the sfumato technique of Leonardo da Vinci to some extent, you will see pictures with completely different eyes, and you will hardly be tempted anymore to “brush” something in alla prima. Down on the canvas. I don’t want to play down alla Prima, on the contrary, it is a mastery of one’s own, to achieve representational and expression at the first throw. For me personally, however, this is not enough.
LSA: What fascinates you about these artists and to what extent does this influence your artist work today?
Well, these artists all have one thing in common: real technical skill and patent execution in the picture. Unfortunately, many artists today have lost the patience of the image – they are satisfied with “expressiveness”. The works themselves partly influence me in the composition, but above all in the general approach to the picture and in the implementation in terms of painting technique. With the old masters, one can learn a lot about composition and proportion apart from the painting technique, unfortunately also rather rarely today – although there seems to have been an opposite trend for some years now.
LSA: At your website, you mentioned studies in Malta about Caravaggio. What was the relevance to your own artistic development?
It was a very important step in my development in terms of the exploration of expression and painting style. Caravaggio was a very expressive and technically gifted artist.
LSoA: Among others, you use a Dieto Aria technique. I could not find an explanation for this term. What exactly does it mean?
I’m glad you couldn’t find anything about it, because it’s an own further development of old masterly Renaissance techniques, and the exact technique is of course secret. So, that much I can reveal that “layers of air” are applied with a secret painting medium. This increases the depth effect even more but is very time consuming due to the recipe and the technique. A painting is therefore hardly ever finished within 1 year.
LSoA: Let us now turn to the motives. In addition to women, your works of art also focus on antique and historical themes. Does this have to do with your painting medium?
Well, yes and no. I would say that my painting technique and the painting medium I use have a supporting effect on the realisation of these themes.
LSA: What fascinates you about historical themes and topics as an artist?
Well, they are eternal themes that interest me: The woman as a fascinating being in her own right, passion, joy, greed, envy, hate and death to name but a few of the most important ones. These themes have always been depicted in so-called historical pictures.
LSA: When you visit your website, you will be taken to an online exhibition of Gallery 1503 entitle “Faces and Bodies”. Can you give us a brief overview of it?
Well I have tried to present my most important works of the last years about these topics in a complete overview. There are also some older works here that have nothing to do with the elaborate techniques mentioned above, but which reflect my unbroken interest in the female body and the woman herself
In addition, there are some newer works in Dietro Aria technique 2 portraits (Enzhe) and 3 paintings from the series The Annunciation. One of the paintings shown (Before the Annunciation – the window) is not yet finished, but due to the overall theme, it has already been shown. The theme of the Annunciation is a very interesting starting point for my episode painting if you want to call it that. There will be 5 paintings in total, 3 are already finished, with the titles: “Before the Annunciation”, “The Annunciation – the Bassein”, “Before the Annunciation – the Window”, “The Annunciation” and “After the Annunciation” are in progress and will form the main part of the series. Also a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s.
“The Lady with the Ermine” is shown. It was my intention here to show the picture as it might have looked like at the time of its creation. So without the dirt and the frinisses of the last centuries and without the unprofessional retouching of some “restorers”. If you are interested in details you can find more information on my homepage. I have already said much too much, the pictures should speak for themselves, I always say.
LSA: In the centre of almost all pictures are women. Many of them are represented as nudes or parallel nudes. In their description of a whole series, you talk about giving women back their dignity. This seems to be a rather feminist approach. Can you explain this in more detail?
Of course I would be happy to: Well, it is the case that despite feminism, women are still exploited and abused as pure marketing objects. This tendency has hardly changed in reality, only it is becoming more subtle and hidden. With many of my pictures I try to point out this fact in a very subtle and non-instructive way. My main focus, however, is to give back the dignity of the women portrayed (some of them have come from the erotic industry and later ended in the porn industry).With the help of painting a positive transformation can be made possible. The depicted woman is then no longer just a consumer good but is appreciated as a person.
And yet she again becomes a consumer good if someone buys my painting, which only highlights the whole problem.
LSA: The most prominent model in this exhibition is your version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Dame con l’ermillino, now shown in Czartoryski-Museum, Cracow. What was your intention to create this piece of art?
As partly mentioned before, my intention was not to make a copy of the condition of the painting as it is presented to us today – this is something for art forgers. My intention was to recreate the painting in the colours and condition it was in around 1500, so the way it looked then. Of course, this is not an easy task, and it was to take over 18 months to complete. Here is the story:
In February 2019, on my birthday, I was in Krakow and visited the Old Town of Krakow and also the museums. When I first saw the painting in reality in Krakow, I was immediately captured by the deep expression or impression it leaves on the viewer. At the same time, however, the colours made me think about it, which in my opinion, do not show to advantage in a museum due to the very specific lighting. So I researched everything there was to know about this painting and about the painting style of Leonard do Vinci and decided to kiss the painting awake from its thorny sleep. One has to understand that a five hundred-year-old painting does not look like it was painted five hundred years ago. There is dirt, dust, yellowed varnish, restorers who have restored well and restorers who have restored less well – as unfortunately also happened with this painting. For example, the background that is shown in the museum is black. In reality, it was a blue-grey, to give just one example. In many painting sessions, the painting was now recreated layer by layer in the technique of Leonard and with the original pigments (as far as know after my research) It is like Leonardos original painted of course on wood and in sfumato technique. The size corresponds exactly to the original. Many copies, including very good ones, do not have the exact size of the original, because they do not take into account the hidden edges that are hidden behind the frame.
In the replica I create, the dimensions, materials and painting technique is as close as possible to the original work.
Work for a real art lover of the Renaissance or a lover of Leonardo da Vinci.
LSA: You offer individual portraits. Could you give a short idea about this service? Is it orientated on historic portraits?
Gladly, I make portraits after a mutual agreement with the client. In doing so, I pay special attention to the individual ideas of the person who commissioned the
painting. Since it is not everyone’s cup of tea to wait many months for a portrait, I offer three possible techniques with a different finishing time: First and fastest the academic oil sketch, second the academic painting and last but not least the painting in Dietro Aria technique. Depending on the chosen technique, the execution takes from 2 months to 12 months and more, depending on size and details. I especially orientate portraits towards classical poses, but I am also open-minded towards other subjects.
LSA: Do you have an actual art project in progress?
Yes, I am currently working on two projects:
Firstly the complexion of the Annunciation series. There is one more picture to be finished (Before the Annunciation – the window) and secondly, I am doing a joint project with a very good friend and art colleague, the German art photographer Dieter Hanf, whom I appreciate very much. I am very much looking forward to the joint project together with Dieter. Here we want to transport the theme of the Madonnas, which most people associate with Raphael’s pictures, into the present.
I don’t want to reveal too much, just as much as it will be an extremely exciting comparison/ juxtaposition of photography and painting on this theme.
LSA: What is the intention of this project?
Well, as already mentioned, it will be an exciting juxtaposition and complementation of painting and photography on this topic. The main theme will be the individuality and strength of modern women to show this contrasted in photography and painting and the expressive possibilities associated with it.
LSA: How would you describe the art collaboration with your partner? Does Corona have an influence on your work?
Dieter Hanf and I have a very friendly artistic collaboration where we regularly exchange ideas on a wide range of topics, which also go beyond the project already mentioned. I really appreciate Dieter as an artist and of course as a person and friend. Dieter is very strong in abstract photography. Corona has unfortunately had an impact on the planned exhibition with Gallery 1503, as the exhibition has now been moved to the internet. You might imagine that subtle painting and painting
techniques are very difficult to get across virtually.
LSA: Will you present your results in an art show?
After Corona, Dieter and I plan to show our joint project in a vernissage and exhibition in Germany and Prague.
LSA: Thank you very much for your time and precious insights about your work and upcoming projects. Please let us know about the progress and the art shows. We wish you all the best!
Many thanks also to you and your team. I was very pleased to take part in this interview.
I would be happy to inform Luxurysplashofart about my further events and exhibitions.
Interview by Kamila Krzyzaniak