The works of the works of his great predecessor Jean Dubuffet, who pioneered the toNI Altenstrasser manifest a certain rawness, not unlike school of L’Art brut. Using paints, oil pastels and pencils, Altenstrasser creates compositions that are equally figurative and abstract. His multilayered figures are often just the intimations of figures— sketchy outlines that speak to our own frailty in the face of unknowable circumstances. The aspect of abstraction that informs his work, by contrast, is bold and colorful, and constitutes the real backdrop against which his paintings reveal themselves.
True to the tradition of L’Art Brut, a sense of play is communicated through Altenstrasser’s paintings. Sometimes reworking a painting over the course of months, layering new additions, colors, aspects, and details to wonderfully animated canvases, Altenstrasser makes paintings that can be considered both fun and serious. Out of this attitude of play, he creates whimsical characters that feel as real and frail as our own being, restlessly going about their everyday lives, without any guarantee as to the future or the promises it might hold.