Author: Karla Götz
News no.: 16004

Did you know…? The wall painting in the foyer of building GW2

Well worth a look: A closer examination of the wall painting in GW2 reveals many interesting symbols.

Jimmi D. Paesler has created numerous wall paintings in Bremen. Today, he works for an association called “Mauern öffnen” [break down the walls] in the sculptor workshop of the Oslebshausen penitentiary.

Jimmi D. Paesler’s home and studio in Wulwestraße in Bremen’s avant-garde suburb is a real eye catcher. The clever play with dimensions is his specialty.

“We were rather prophetic, weren’t we?”, muses Jimmi D. Paesler as for the first time in many years he once more stands in front of the wall painting on the ground floor of building GW2. He hadn’t seen it for such a long time and wonders at the good condition of the acrylic painting.

The Bremen artist was an adjunct lecturer in the area of art education at the University of Bremen until well into the nineties. He spent four semesters working with a group of students on the concept for the painting that was eventually finished in 1981. Buzzword: “Art in public spaces”. The painting depicts the situation of university studies from the perspective of students. A closer examination reveals its allegorical character and time-related hidden symbols.

Depicting socio-economic change

Paesler, now 73 years old, wearing a flat cap, ear rings and with a twinkle in his eye, is clearly still of defiant spirit. “We wanted to draw attention to the pending socio-economic upheaval”, he explains. “The ‘marketization’ of studies; the uncertainty of future employment, the sense of insecurity among students. We saw it coming. The humanities were being decimated. That’s happening at an even faster rate today.” And it was a time when digitalization was just beginning to emerge. As a logical consequence, one of the pillars on the side of the central stairway of ascension in the picture is standing on pedestal of computers. “Yes, they really were as big as that those days”, he laughs. While Paesler is explaining the six by ten meter wall painting, behind him in the foyer some students pose in front of billboards for selfies, as if to underscore the character of the times we are living in.

Grey figures looking into the picture

The former lecturer can even remember the names of the people portrayed in the reddish -painted work group. The girl second from right is Ulrike. She had the idea to choose a citation from the Bild newspaper. The gray men in hats featured in the fore of the picture with their backs to the onlooker were inspired by the famous painting by Richard Oelze called “The Expectation”. Oelze, who lived in Worpswede near Bremen, created the surrealistic motif in 1935. Now, together with the onlooker, the gray men in GW2 look through a plastic-type frame into the actual picture. On the stairway they can see stumbling students who have given up the political struggle. This is symbolized by a discarded red banner which is sliding back down the steps. The uncertain future in societal reality is illustrated by a crack of light shining through a small opening between two heavy security doors.

Marx as an invalid and science as a hermaphrodite

“Did you notice the invalid Marx?”, Paesler chuckles and points to the figure of Marx standing on the volumes of his collected works, the famous “blue books”. The balled fists holding up the next column are intended as a parody of the C-groups (Maoist and communist-leaning political groups that abounded in the student movement). The counterpart to Marx is portrayed on the right-hand side of the picture, a hermaphrodite stylite with a face like Woody Allen, a banknote in one hand and a banderole bearing the words “Freiheit der Wissenschaft” [Academic Freedom] in the other – the student art group wanted to mock science for its phony righteousness. They were wild times. Paesler spent several weekend seminars with its hard-core members. One of these took place in a farmhouse in Dötlingen. “There was quite a lot of drinking”, he recalls, laughing, and lots of tall stories. “The guy top right about to jump because he doesn’t make it through the door to a successful career – that’s Victor Ströver”, says Paesler. His former student now runs a web-design enterprise from a villa in Schwachhausen, a prosperous suburb of Bremen. Seems things worked out better than expected – at least for him.

A special wish: A plaque with his name on it

“The second from left in the work group, that’s me. Yup, I wore my hair long those days.” Jimmi Paesler was happy to hear that the wall painting is always worth a stop during guided tours of the campus. But he does have a special wish: “There should be a plaque next to the painting with the name of its creator”.