From „All Walks Of Life“; Seven Artists on Painting Today, PACE Gallery Journal, NYC

Fabian Treiber

My work is painting about painting, and I like to explore the possibilities of the medium that extend all the way to the viewer’s experience of it. What I do, broadly, is put raw materials and unprimed canvas into a dialogue that informs and shapes any composition I create. The paintings often begin with just a suggestion of something—of a certain time of day or night, for example—and I want to transform those suggestions or feelings into something that the viewer can connect with. The beginning of my process is more or less about color because, in many ways, color carries emotion. During the first 30 minutes of the process, when the paint is still wet, I can do so many things with it, and the hope is to create something unique that leads to the next step. Layer by layer, motifs emerge in the painting and the final result grows from there.


Conceptually, my interest lies in the intangible—time, feelings, memories, expectations, projections. I was trained as an abstract painter, but I find it more interesting to work within a larger, more liberating framework where I can think about what it means to paint the idea of a landscape or the idea of an interior or exterior. I don’t really think about the poles of figuration or abstraction while I’m working. My formal decisions are based on what the painting asks me to do. Disrupting expectations of genre and style leads me closer to the specific feelings that I aim to communicate in my work.

I think there’s a collision of the real and the unreal in my paintings, which is fed by speculation and memories. I try to be as open as I can when painting—I don’t use any kind of fixed pre-image because I don’t want to engage in some endless fight with what the painting wants to be and my expectations for it. I’m really interested in the idea of painting as a stage where exchange can happen between the viewer and the painting. That’s also where my interest in typologies and modes of perception comes in—how we all individually see and interpret colors and images in nuanced, intimate ways.

Language is really important to my work on many levels, too. Instead of sketching, I make notes before I start working and constantly during the painting process. So, I have notes on certain moments or certain ideas that evoke images within me. These often-fragmentary notes also inform and help me distill the titles of my paintings.

The two paintings I’m showing with Pace in Hong Kong are part of a huge cycle of works that I started at the beginning of the year as part of an exploration of time—specifically, its ability to collapse and expand—through a static medium. The title of When You’re Not Around sort of alludes to that larger group of works, but the individual paintings in the series can be experienced as autonomous artworks on their own. All I Need Is Some Sunshine, my other painting in the exhibition, sounds a little bit like a song. It’s an odd one in that, looking at the painting, you’re not sure if you’re inside or outside of it, if you’re looking inside or outside a window. And who is the one who needs some sunshine? Is it the viewer? Is it the painting? There are no figures in the painting, so the title leaves those questions unanswered.

Interview held and edited by Claire Selvin @PACE Gallery, NYC