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I Think I Could Be a Sitter

by Sandro Kortekaas in Theatre, Art & Expo , 03 oktober 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 7 minutes


An In-Depth Conversation With Gerd As A Painter’s Muse. From September 9 to November 1, gallery MooiMan male-art shows a solo exhibition of the work of Peter Schauwecker (1936, Feuchtwangen, Germany). Males, many males, in many drawings, watercolors and oil paintings, virtually weightless, free from gravity, silent in all their nakedness and innocence.


His work can thus be described in one sentence. Intimate moments between painter and model.

Schauwecker is a realistic painter, art teacher and artistic therapist. He taught as a professor at the Fachhochschule München. Since 1999, he has been working as a freelance artist - or, as he himself with a great smile says: a “pensionada” - with exhibitions in Italy, Germany, and in the Netherlands at gallery MooiMan male-art, as well as art fairs where the gallery is represented.

Schauwecker mainly paints from model drawings and watercolors, which he often uses as a base for his oil paintings. After his retirement, Peter worked with a number of regular models and continued to draw and paint in his sunny studio in Pucheim, near Munich. The theme in all of his work is his fascination with the naked male body and the correct anatomical view in all imaginable positions. The exhibition is proof how virtuoso he still is at his advanced age.

In his sunny and spacious hilltop apartment Peter draws and paints his men. He is standing behind his easel and his model is posing on the floor naked, often on a towel covering a mattress or sitting on a chair. Since his retirement, these sessions are a weekly occurrence. A conversation with Gerd, his favorite model and for more than thirteen years more than just a friend. An interview about art, friendship, ageing as a model, but also ageing as an artist and looking out for each other.

How did you get in contact with Peter?
“In 2005, Peter gave a watercolors course in the ‘Sub - Schwules Kommunikations- und Kulturzentrum,’ a gay meeting place in the centre of Munich. I had subscribed for this course and also participated.”

What was the underlying idea to become a model and sitter? Because being a sitter is not easy and often underestimated. You must have a good body for it, but must also be able to remain in a certain position.
“I actually became a model and sitter as a direct result of Peter’s course. I told him that I could spontaneously model for his ‘Zeichenruppe’ - his drawing group - who meet every three to four weeks. I had never before modelled or sat and had never done such a thing. ‘I think I could be a sitter,’ I said, which was the beginning of it all.”

You have been sitting for Peter for thirteen years now. Do you see any changes in your cooperation with Peter? Are his drawings, watercolors, oil paintings different than those in the beginning, when you sat for him for the very first time thirteen years ago?
“I found and find that his drawings are still very detailed and fascinating. Then and now, there still is no quick method to get to the final piece. But what has changed, is the confidence and the ever-expanding friendship. I have developed more self-confidence because I also see myself more positively because of Peter’s optimistic attitude. As a result, my self-confidence has grown over the years.”

You have a very good relationship with Peter, he even calls you his favorite model. What do you think of that?
“My friendship with Peter has given me confidence for my entire life. I’m glad that we appreciate each other and like each other.”

Peter’s artworks are made to be sold. If they are sold, these pieces are hanging on the walls of strangers. How do you feel about being on display there?
“Yes, it is a good thing that Peter’s art is being appreciated and sold.”

What does your partner think of this?
“My husband Lars loves Peter’s style of painting. They get along splendidly. He has no problems with it.”

We were not allowed to bring a number of his works along to the solo exhibition ‘Mannen - Males - Männer.’ Peter is too attached to certain works. And he wanted your permission to exhibit or sell them. What do you think of that?
“In the more than thirteen years that we know each other, both as friends and as sitter and artist, our contact has become more intensive. As we age, it has become more important: Peter has become more insecure because of his age, and also lonelier because of the death of many of his dear friends. To him, daily living seems to have become more monotonous, while his watercolors and oil paintings are as exuberant and vibrant as ever.”

“He still often travels to the city centre of Munich - ‘geht bummeln’ so to speak - takes a walk and then returns to the restaurants he is familiar with. He really enjoys the social aspect of being together.”

I have the impression that he wants to keep back a number of works for you, as you sat for them. Are you aware of this?
“Our personal contact has become more regular: once or twice a week. Peter often says that he’s pleased that a younger man is interested in him, something he truly enjoys.”
 
“Of late, more of the works he creates are pleasing to him, and perhaps they serve as a confirmation that he still masters his techniques.”

“In my conversations with Peter, I told him about my desire to look after his work after his death. Because what remains are not only memories but also his work that will always be of interest to viewers, aficionados and collectors. However, the manner in which to reach them will change.”

Did you ever sit for Peter in your own home, or was it always at Peter’s studio?
“Whenever I sit for him, it is at his studio.”

Perhaps a difficult question, but do you have a favorite?
“I think that his drawings are the most beautiful, as he makes them as a study for watercolors or oil paintings. I find that his thin-scale drawings can be compared to very fine filigree. Years ago, Peter gave me a portrait - a pencil drawing - with the inscription ‘for my friend Gerd.’ That is one of my favorite works.”

Once, Peter has told you that when sitting for him, you often fall asleep, and that gave him the time to draw and paint in peace. Did you know that?
“Sitting for him after a long working day, I have to fully relax. We listen to music of the last decades, and sometimes I do fall asleep. From time to time, we forget that I am sitting there for him. These sessions would be slightly longer.”

We noticed that Peter is getting older, which we all are, and that he is getting somewhat forgetful. That is also what Peter told us. We assume that you also see these changes? You see him regularly. How do you socialize with him, and how do you notice these things?
“Yes, Peter is starting to forget more. It is all the more important for me to give some appreciation and social warmth back to him from what I have received from him through our regular meetings. We talk a lot, talk about our life experiences, and understand each other even when we are not talking.”

“May last year, Peter and I visited his home town Bad Windsheim in Franconia. We visited his parental home and his father’s workshop. It was important to me to know and learn how and where Peter grew up, and to give him - perhaps even a last time - the chance to show his parental home.”

“Peter was also a guest at the wedding of Lars and me, and was very pleased that we as gay people today - in contrast to his experiences - in any case in western countries, are now able to be open about it and have a more socially accepted life.”

It is a bit odd to talk about this, but we openly discussed this with Peter, who knows the end will come at one point. Has he ever spoken about what should be done with his work?
“Sometimes Peter said he did not care what would happen to it, but I have the idea to create a website about Peter that will showcase both his artistic and human side. On his calendar, also as a resort against his forgetfulness, he wrote that it is his wish that I should take care of his life, and that it should be accepted by everyone. Peter deserves it.”

During the exhibition “Mannen - Males - Männer,” new bronze sculptures by German artist Ivo Blanck are also shown. A limited number of copies of a catalogue about Peter Schauwecker’s work are still available.

 Gallery MooiMan, Noorderstationsstraat 40
Groningen, www.mooi-man.nl



 




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