Have you always wanted to be an artist, was it always what you wanted to be?
I realised early on that I wanted to create things, not following the paths found. To be active as an artist, however, was initially something very distant. My mother has to raise three children alone, and this situation gave me a strong need for financial security. First, I tried to go a way that gave me both this security and the opportunity to be creative. Later, the urge to look for creative solutions without complying with the guidelines of others grew so strong that is seemed necessary to me to dive into the unknown. In this initially nebulous environment, I was first confronted with myself. In the meantime it has become an essential activity for me to perceive to the world, to interact and thus to be a part.
Raffael Bader, through high islands, 2021, 17 x 24 cm, available
How has living in Leipzig, Germany affected your work?
When I came to Leipzig in 2012, I started studying art at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. The beginning of the course opened the door to the above-mentioned unknown. I grew up in Bavaria, in the south of Germany, a relatively rich state. When I came to Leipzig I noticed a difference. There was a lot of vacancy in the city, many industrial ruins and small overgrown parks. All of this felt like potential to me, everything seemed to be in flux. This feeling and this state is very invigorating for me. For me, art is always in the process, as is life itself, if something seems too perfect or complete to me, it is very restrictive. Leipzig is changing, I like some of it, but not all. It will change for a long time. In any case, it feels like a good base to be able to work as an artist at the moment.
Are the landscapes in your works exact locations?
No, these are not exact locations. However, I could also put it this way: Yes, these are places that can be found everywhere. It behaves in such a way that I take in the landscapes and what opens up to me as nature like a sponge. When I'm traveling or walking through a nearby park, I absorb the shapes, colours and line in me. Later, these elements are used to create paintings in which I negotiate my view of a world that consists of permanent tensions. A world that strives for chaos and harmony at the same time.
Raffael Bader, on the rocky coast, 2021, 17 x 24 cm, available
How did you decide on using watercolour as a medium, is it a medium you've always used?
In addition to oil paints, I use watercolour, although there is no fundamental preference. It depends more on my mood. With the watercolours I work on smaller formats and usually without long interruptions until a piece is finished. It is a different kind of focus and concentration that in oil paintings. I have been painting with watercolour since childhood and struggled with it for a long time until I found a satisfactory way of dealing with it. We have now become good friends. The exciting thing about watercolour is, among other things, the water, which has its own will and also requires a little patience from me (I'm not particularly patient). So it is an opposite pole that enables good work.
Raffael Bader, red desert cloud II, 2021, 17 x 24 cm, available
What's your process like, how do you know when a piece is finished?
There are two different approaches. On the one hand, I start with sketches and drawings that stick to a picture idea that I will take up later. On the other hand, I start painting right away and the idea emerges from a spontaneous impulse. Some pictures are finished quickly, others sometimes take months to complete. On the whole it is a progressive process, this is how all images are related to each other: One thing leads to another and this in turn influences how I look at the previous one. It is difficult to say when a picture is finished. Sometimes when it meets my expectation and sometimes when it surprises me and suggests something new. Maybe it's a balanced relationship between the two.
Who have been your greatest influences?
My family, my friends, the people around me and my environment itself. Furthermore, there are many artists who have influenced and are influencing me on my way, next to painters, from all branches of culture (writers, musicians, filmmakers etc). There are some works by painters that have steered the development of my view of the world in one direction. Sometimes these are individual paintings and picture ideas, sometimes personal handwriting. The works come from a distant past as well as from the present.
Raffael Bader, yellow stones, 2021, 17 x 24 cm, available
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far is that I can make a living from it without being dependant on a part-time job. I am grateful to be able to concentrate completely on my work. I've had some online shows over the past year and some physical ones too, although with the pandemic it was hardly possible.
What is coming up for you in 2021, what are you looking forward to?
One of my oil paintings will be part of an exhibition in the MbdK (Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig). It is a campaign in which works by Leipzig artists are auctioned, with the proceeds going to the floodlights of a local football club. Then I am currently planning a group exhibition with three other artists that will take place in Leipzig this summer. In addition, new connections are being established and I am looking forward to the upcoming projects.
Raffael Bader, two trees in the snow, 2021, 17 x 24 cm, available
Finally, if you could interview anyone past or present, who would it be and why?
My grandparents passed away. Much was not told, there was a lot I didn't want to know when I was young. Now the questions are ripe. I would talk to them and let them tell me about their lives.