Release year: 2012
All artwork © Benjamin König (http://sperber-illustrationen.blogspot.com/)
Is there anything over there? … Beyond the door? … Under the trees? At the window?
It is not easy to describe the paintings of the German artist Benjamin König. If we tried speaking in metaphors, we could state that his illustrations are made up of whispers, of low lights, and of the penumbra authentic quintessence.
The concept may not be much clearer now, but however I think it comes close to reality, because there is truly a common feature among König‘s illustrations: the feeling that something is voluntarily escaping the observer’s perception. And this is really paradoxical, since the subjects of this German artist are at first sight easily to summarize. Sometimes they even lack human figures that might suggest any kind of narration, and thus the painted scene shows only, for example, a path winding through the woods, or a dark threshold looming just a few steps ahead of the observer.
But it is really a matter of minor importance whether a scene portrayed by König may seem deserted or not, because anyway you get the sensation of staring at it while at the same time it is staring at you. Undoubtedly there is something indefinite and indefinable in the artist’s illustrations that arouses concern. Personally, I find that the eyes react autonomously in front of these images, as if they were carefully scouring the scene to discover a hidden danger.
What kind of danger? Again, an explicit definition is not easy to come up with, because there is no real “mystery revelation” in Benjamin König‘s paintings; tension dominates the scene without interruption and without any decline.
Therefore, perhaps “danger” is not the most suitable word to describe the inspired feeling: “threat of inexpressible danger” would fit better.
In fact the painter does not portray violent events either in his colorful scenes or in those with muted tones. Rather, we feel as we find ourselves one second before a sinister event, whose author is all the more frightening as it is completely faceless and shapeless. Folk tales and fables are doubtless a suitable setting for this kind of scenes: not by chance their vague and gloomy essence provide many subjects to König‘s paintings. As a consequence, nature plays a leading role in the German painter’s artistic vision. Indeed we can certainly list some natural topics that are recurring leitmotifs for him: eerie paths, chiaroscuro among the branches of a wood, flickering distant lights (which often turn out to be thin candles), and barren mountains.
Also silence is a constant with König‘s landscapes: the lack of sound in his pictures is almost tangible. As an example we can quote the many paintings by the artist that portray snow-covered landscapes, where his expressive capability reaches its peak, representing through few essential brushstrokes the likely ultimate winter upon the land.
Let us look closely at König’s two artworks at the beginning of this article, because they provide a recapitulation of the painter’s pivotal features.
The first picture on the left was adopted as cover image for the CD version of the album “Hoagascht”, released in 2012 by the Bavarian black-metal band Lunar Aurora;
the latter for the vinyl version of the same record.
Unfortunately, the German ensemble broke up shortly after the issue of the above-mentioned album; nevertheless getting acquainted with the band former members will help us discovering the close connection among the two cover artworks, the lyrics, the music, and – in a word – the quintessence of the release.
Two musicians were involved in the composition of “Hoagascht”: the singer Whyrdh and the multi-instrumentalist Aran.
Behind the second pseudonym we find Benjamin König himself; therefore no wonder that the songs of the record are an authentic “translation” of the painter’s pictures in words and music. Let us immediately see some evidences of this statement…
First of all, each song in the album revolves around thoughts inspired to the two musicians by the landscapes of their native Bavarian land. Of course the description of natural sceneries made by Whyrdh and Aran paves the way for their intimate rendering of the land spiritual marrow.
Indeed, the title of the album itself (which can be translated into “Spontaneous gathering of musicians in the garden of a house”) and the lyrics of all its songs have been conceived in the musicians’ Bavarian mother-tongue, in order to give a more direct representation of the record subjects.
Secondly, it can be easily seen how many natural topics that mark König‘s figurative art enhance the “Hoagascht” album as well.
For example, one can recognize in many of the artist’s paintings both “the crooked path” and “the old house where a light still flickers” mentioned in the record’s sixth song “Wedaleichtn” (“Storm lights”: an atmospheric phenomenon where, at the appearance of distant lightning in the sky, no thunder follows).
Moreover, the owl portrayed in the cover image of the “Hoagascht” CD version brings immediately to mind the “Nachteule” (“Night Owl”) of the album second track.
Finally, the descriptions of the desolate and icy mountain landscapes of the songs “Beagliachda” (“Lights of the Mountain”) and “Håbergoaß” (an ominous, legendary creature of the woods) obviously evoke the cover of the “Hoagascht” vinyl version.
Also the record music itself lines up with the eerie pictures of König: in fact the heavy metal fans among you surely agree that the atmospheric black-metal of Lunar Aurora combines perfectly with this kind of images.
Given the characteristics that we have examined so far, it is therefore undeniable that all the distinctive features of Benjamin König‘s art are one and the same in “Hoagascht”, as the cover images are in tune with the album music and lyrics.
Speaking figuratively, it can be said that the painter and the musician stroll together side by side on the way to the Hoagascht. In the meantime, perhaps something rustles in the undergrowth …
A note to our readers
You can read on our website an article concerning another striking German heavy metal band: The Vision Bleak. Click on the link below: