Dr. Peter Lodermeyer about Joachim Hiller

Joachim Hiller has dedicated himself exclusively to painting since 1969. Over the course of these years he created a multitude of abstract collections, which he only started showing publicly a few years ago.

The Catalog of Work (about 2000 pieces, status: June 2012)

The history, design and structure of work catalogs is as different as the artists whose works they document. For very few of them, however, what Theodor W. Adorno once said with an ironic undertone about Richard Wagner applies: “From day one he was the author of all of his works.” Joachim Hiller, too, is not the type of artist who has always had his “Œuvre” in mind, documenting every piece accordingly and keeping an extensive archive as a prerequisite for the future catalog of work – quite to the contrary, you would have to say. The present catalog reflects the unusual artistic development of Joachim Hiller. At its current date of publication, in the summer of 2012, in the 79th year of the artist’s life, initially as an online publication, it contains the traces of three decisive decisions that have determined Hiller’s path as an artist.

The most important decision was made in 1969. Back then the 35 year old commercial artist and art director Joachim Hiller decided to quit his unbeloved bread and butter job and to work exclusively as an independent artist from then on. The second, unusual, definitely radical decision occurred shorty afterward. This was Hiller’s decision to pursue painting away from the public eye, only for himself, without gallery representation, without participation in exhibits, and without contact to fellow artists. The third decision was then the revision of that decision after more than 35 years. His exhibition in the summer of 2005 in the Bonifazius towers in Mainz and the representation of his works by the Nero Gallery in Wiesbaden starting in May 2006 mark the beginning of Hiller’s willingness to make his very extensive Œuvre, which includes numerous techniques and artistic phases, available to the public in exhibitions and publications.

The fact that Joachim Hiller worked for three and a half decades in secrecy and without thinking about a potential audience is evident in several aspects of the present catalog of work. Paradoxically, it is exactly the reason it could be created at all, especially in such a relatively short amount of time. The majority of the pieces are still in the artist’s possession and could thus be photographed and catalogued without research and travel expenses. There is an important point to be made regarding the dating of the works. Here I should repeat what I wrote about this topic in 2009 in the book “Hiller. Werkbiografie” (Hiller. Biography of Work): “Hiller has, much to the horror of the art critics, left his pieces undated with very few exceptions. This is apparently part of the stubbornness of this artist. Without the help of his wife Ingetraud, even a halfway reliable dating of the pieces would be impossible or at the best a guessing game. With the help of numerous obviously datable ‘guiding fossils’ she assembled the dates of creation of the pieces displayed here to the best of her knowledge.” It is obvious that the retrospective dating of the works will be perfect in every case. In particular, the fact that Hiller perpetually returns to the techniques and motives of older series and continues them makes placing the works in chronological order even more difficult in individual cases. If new evidence suggests new dates for individual works, the catalog of work will be updated accordingly. This remark does not apply to works created from 2005 onwards since these have been documented very well and can be dated accurately.

That Joachim Hiller’s catalog of work will appear first as online publication and not, as initially planned, in print media, is due to the gaps which remain in the text. A work in progress is more suitable for the contemporary and more flexible form of publication on the internet anyhow, especially since it offers the user the opportunity to download sections of work that particularly interest them as a PDF. Currently, nearly 2000 pieces are catalogued. However, the artist sold many of his works, even prior to 2005, without documentation or photographs of the works. Therefore, all owners of pieces by Joachim Hiller are requested to contact us, so the still existing gaps in the documentation can be filled. Furthermore, the existing catalogue in its present state only documents about one third of the artist’s drawings and other pieces on paper. Some of his works, in particular an extensive series of sketches, material and work studies, will not be included in the catalog until a later date. The third reason for the incompleteness is the joyous fact that Joachim Hiller in still working and discovering new possibilities for the application of color to the canvas so new, fascinating structures result, thus further expanding the artist’s body of work.

- Peter Lodermeyer, Bonn, June 2012 -