In film the color red is used to denote passion, danger or power. It is the color of extremes, a warning, used to contrast with its surroundings, and to draw the viewer’s attention. Red is also the eye-catching color the German painter Michael Hutter (1963) uses in the hellish visions on his detailed canvases.
The Triumph of Flesh
At thirteen, he had a revelation when he saw a lexicon including surreal scenes that his mother had bought as a birthday present for someone in their family. He was immediately taken by it, and wanted to make this himself. Mentioning Hieronymous Bosch as an influence is inevitable. Hutter’s ‘The Triumph of Flesh‘ (Fig.1, 2 and 23) strongly reminisces Bosch’ iconic triptych ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights‘, produced five centuries ago. His triptych refers to the New Testament (Matthew 26:41) that states: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
If we take a closer look at his work, many other influences surface both European and Oriental varying from the Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Breughel, the Surrealists, tarot cards but also Indian Moghul art (Fig.3, 14 and 18) and the Japanese art of ukiyo-e (Hokusai’s Waves see Fig.13).
The Cruelest Book
In an earlier interview Hutter states ‘I think influence is overrated. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants,’ but later admits that his biggest influences can be found in pornographic and macabre literature. Classic writers like Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, Clark Ashton Smith and so on. Also, very important is the Bible (maybe the cruelest book he has ever read), the fairy tales of the Grimms, Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast”, and he is also a great admirer of Thomas Ligotti.
The unique universes he creates (a feast for the eyes) are populated by a plethora of colorful characters; such as cheeky male figures wearing harlequin hats (making love to a limbless female body – Fig.6) or plague masks (Fig.21 and 22), and Lincoln-like men wearing high top hats (Fig.13 and 15). Hutter is clearly not enamored by the church. Clergymen and other representatives of the Church are depicted as foolish fat men, or as creatures in deformed slug-like guises (reminds me of Jabba the Hutt – Fig.20), with their gasping lackeys represented as monkeys (Fig.17 and 23).
The threat comes from crab-like aliens, human-like wild boars, larva-like beings, scary deep sea creatures that seem to be inspired by the angler fish, a shapeless blob except for a massive tooth-filled mouth and beady eyes (Fig.13, 21, 25 and 26), and the Grim Reaper (Fig.4).
Most of his oil paintings are done in a very precise three layer technique, and he prefers traditional techniques like oil, tempera or watercolor. His ink drawings are made with a dipping pen and his graphic works are mostly etchings. In this respect, Hutter’s working method also bares similarities with the art of his colleagues from the American Lowbrow art movement. They also use traditional methodologies from art history.
What appeals to me personally about Hutter’s paintings is that it reminds me of the work of Gaspar Noé (1963). This subversive French director, notorious for his films full of brutal violence and sex, also uses green and red as the defining primary colors in his films. In reviews on Noé’s work, critics often refer to Bosch, his Enter the Void (2009) is somewhere described as ‘Hieronymous Bosch daubed in neon’ and Climax (2018) as ‘Decadent, sexy and delirious like a painting by Jeroen Bosch.’
“Existence is a Fleeting Illusion”
Also I came across philosophical quotes of each of them that display a similar point of view on life; “Existence is a fleeting illusion” by Gaspar Noé and “I consider truth to be an illusion” by Michael Hutter. Off course, there are also many differences, Hutter’s work always includes strong surrealistic fantasies while Noé relies mostly on realism. But it is interesting to see that they both share some decisive sources.
The following video features many other works by Hutter…
In this recent video you can follow the artist working on a new painting…
This third video examines Hutter’s masterpiece ‘The Triumph of Flesh‘ in detail…
You can support the artist for only $1,- per month on Patreon…!!
Photo source Fig.1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 16 and 18: kunstkrake.wordpress.com/
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