When you think of anarchy, you probably think of mayhem, chaos and destruction but artist, Aaron Baltetsch, holds a more nuanced and subtle understanding of the concept.
“Historically, anarchy is not as violent as we would think,” Baltetsch says. “It is actually about peace and equality, working together to develop natural skills and yourself as a person, to the best you can possibly be, without being forced in a particular direction.”
He says anarchists oppose governmental control and campaign for more co-operative, anti-hierarchical forms of social organisation. In fact anarchism has far less blood on its hands than other political creeds such as nationalism and monarchism.
The title of Baltetsch’s first solo exhibition, Demanding the Impossible references the title of one of his favourite books (Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall) which explores the history and philosophy of anarchist movements throughout the world.
With a strong individualistic and idealistic streak, Baltetsch puts a high value on personal freedom and is resistant to any forms of coercion. It is no wonder he naturally gravitated to anarcho-philosophy. His artwork is stimulated by anarchistic music styles such Crust punk and D-beat which employ intense imagery in its lyrics and album covers and often convey anti-war messages and death themes.
Earlier this year, Baltetsch was disturbed to learn about war atrocities his relatives experienced in Croatia: some of his family were murdered, others witnessed unspeakable horrors. It is information he finds difficult to comprehend and he has used his art as a way to explore his feelings about it. Twelve monoprints, The Terror Series, and several paintings are the result.
“All life is sacred,” he says. “The grief in my work is not specific just to my family. It’s about the tragedy of war.”
He is currently studying the Bachelor of Art at The Gordon and readily admits he is still finding his way with his art practice. He cites German Expressionist paintings, with its vivid images, expressive forms and passionate emotions, as a major influence. In particular he admires the streetscapes of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and works by Edvard Munch.
He paints with acrylics and oil sticks on paper and uses a minimal palette, often black and white with small accents of colour. Besides printing and painting on paper, he also creates d.i.y. punk clothing which has been a long time passion. He sources secondhand leather jackets rather than new ones and creates his own stencils, patches and collages to express anti-war statements with a Crust punk aesthetic. “I have been painting jackets and shirts, and making patches for many years but it is only now that I have begun to incorporate this medium into my art work and I am very keen to push my work in that direction even more.”
This gentle revolutionary defies the anarchist stereotype and expresses his innate idealism in a visceral and expressionistic style. You can check out his work in Demanding the Impossible at The Munro Room, 105 Lt Malop St, Geelong. The exhibition runs until
22 July 2011.
The Munro Room is run by Ricky Munro who proposed the project to Made in Geelong, a not-for-profit organisation which encourages all forms of locally produced art in Geelong. With the support of Made in Geelong, Munro was able to secure a vacant shop front and convert it to a gallery space. The Munro Room offers an affordable opportunity for established and emerging artists to showcase their art at a professional level with minimal commercial pressure. The gallery space is accessible to all and located right in the heart of Geelong’s CBD. You can contact Ricky Munro on 0425 557 742 or on Facebook.