by Markus Londres
Stephan Hess’s message boards contain popular phrases that are not immediately legible. The most programmatic is the phrase: “we see what we know”. which captures the essence of the series.
Although I have looked at these paintings many times and have deciphered them all, every time I look at them again I still have to look for each letter and I am literally back to square one. The magic of the message boards is that one cannot remember them visually – they elude our visual memory. Only the catchy phrase sticks but when looking at the picture anew we have a problem finding the message again - it is gone until we retrieve it out of the caca-color, the mess of coloured blots. It’s visual Teflon – nothing sticks.
Stephan Hess’s message boards contradict every aesthetic notion about what a painting should be - possibly providing the ultimate reason for their appeal.