Bow to Bauhaus

Local artist builds and paints the architectural phenomenon known as the Bauhaus

Ian August is a Winnipeg painter fascinated with the architectural theory of the Bauhaus movement.

The Bauhaus was a school in Germany, operating between 1919 and 1933, which strived to unite all arts and crafts in order to achieve ‘total works of art.’

According to bauhaus-center.com, the Bauhaus had a “great impact on the modern movement in architecture, embracing functionalism and rationality and condemning ornament. This style is characterized by asymmetry, compositions of primary volumes – cubic and rounded, ribbon windows, pilots, thermometer windows, balconies, roof terraces and plays of shadow and light.”

For August, 35, Bauhaus style is a thing of beauty, something that is evident in his new exhibition RE: BUILD THEM, running until Dec. 7 at Gallery IC03 in the University of Winnipeg.

In RE: BUILD THEM, August displays mostly paintings, but because he builds models to create his paintings, they are in the show too. 

“I can’t make them without spending a lot of time on them to make them nice so I have to use them in the show,” August says. “I try to include the models in a way that you can look at the models, then, back at the paintings, and see that there is a relationship between them, so there are clues to the way that I work.” 

Bauhaus style comes with a history that really interests August. Between 1930 and 1933, the Bauhaus was shut down because of pressure from the Nazi regime, which claimed the centre was fueling communist intellectualism. 

“All the professors were out of work and they had to leave Germany so they spread out across North America, most of them, and they brought all of their ideas with them, and that’s how the ideas of the Bauhaus spread to North America,” August says.

“Then, they got a lot more money behind them there, so the other projects got bigger, like skyscrapers and things like that.”

It’s not necessarily common for an artist to put so much research into their paintings, but August really finds that it helps as he has no architectural background. 

“I just like it,” he says. “I like to create architectural spaces for the paintings. It all comes back to the paintings. All of this is just in service of making the paintings. 

“That’s why I started looking into the theories of the places, to build models. That’s basically the root of it, is the process, making models and then translating them into photographs and then into paintings.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 13, 2013)

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