Article by Jess Harrison in Berlin // Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018
During an artist-in-residency programme at the Nida Art Colony in Lithuania, Hannes Gruber, compelled by loneliness and boredom, began illustrating hospital beds in watercolour. He managed to capture the obscure beauty, sterility, comfort and sadness of them as objects using a delicate style and pastel colour palette. He later posted these drawings to Instagram, using tags such as #modernart and #cure and screenshotted the collection of pictures that were posted with the same hashtag. This placed his work into a kind of narrative, while highlighting the juxtapositions that exist on the platform.
His new book ‘Patient’ is a collection of these illustrations and screenshots, printed by Monroe Books as postcards alongside a booklet of texts. Several different writers contributed to the booklet including musician Sebastian Janata, Dorothea Daus, an artist-turned-doctor, and Alison Hugill, art historian and Managing Editor at Berlin Art Link. The launch of the book was held last Friday at Gruber’s room in the Park Inn in Alexanderplatz, unbeknownst to the hotel. After being secretively escorted into the room, visitors were greeted by Gruber in a surgical mask as well as being confronted with the presence of two disturbing actors, also in masks, laying in his bed like patients. They remained silent for the entire launch, which included readings by Nadine Finsterbusch, one of the contributing writers, and a background audio track that detailed medical statistics. The evening had a bizarre and eerie atmosphere but perfectly encapsulated the subject of his work, mirroring both the obscurity and delicacy of his illustrations.