Exhibition Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig. April 18 August 15, PDF

Exhibition Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig April 18 August 15, 2010 Paintings NeoRauch Foreword Born in Leipzig in 1960, Neo Rauch is undoubtedly the most internationally significant and most discussed

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Exhibition Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig April 18 August 15, 2010 Paintings NeoRauch Foreword Born in Leipzig in 1960, Neo Rauch is undoubtedly the most internationally significant and most discussed German painter of his generation. His paintings are like a theatrum mundi, overlapping scenes that gradually lend a sur real aura to their formal verism and their narrative. Following the political changes of 1989 and the ensuing great sociopolitical upheavals in East Germany, Neo Rauch primarily produced images of the rebuilding of the landscape and the dismantling of an economy that, until then, had been kept alive artificially. Shortly thereafter, his focus shifted to researchers, artists, and paramilitary-looking service personnel. Whereas his work until the late nineteen-nineties was oriented around aspects of drawing, thereafter, the characteristic style of his painting and a more markedly colorful palette gained the upper hand. Moreover, Rauch expanded the personnel of his paintings dispersed English-landed nobility; Biedermeier aesthetes; activists equipped for an expedition through somnambulistic worlds in which actions and spaces merge. Ultimately, it remains obscure which goals the figures pursue, and we can see them as be ing closely related to robotic beings or toy figurines. Rauch s works belong to the tradition of the Leipzig School, at whose center Bernhard Heisig and Arno Rink were active for two generations. It abandons classical iconography for subjective forms, and leads viewers via the trail of the narrative into the field of the mysterious, where they have to watch out for their own signposts to find their way through the interlocking pictorial zones. Neo Rauch s unmistakably, individual painting stands in a line of art historical tradition for which Titian, Tintoretto, and El Greco can be named as precedents. The artist himself has identified Beckmann, Bacon, Beuys, and Baselitz as modern points of reference. Neo Rauch s oeuvre reflects the complex moods of our time, an age in which an intense self-confidence with regard to what is doable encounters a deep uncertainty in difficult global circumstances, where euphoria over and disgust with the media describe a schizophrenic picture, and where fear of terror and catastrophe feed a need for security and contemplation. The Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig are dedicating a comprehensive retrospective exhibition to Neo Rauch that will be shown in both venues simultaneously. The particular form this cooperation has taken is an expression of the artist s art historical significance. Neo Rauch calls this project Begleiter (Companions), and this exhibition title is as open as the title of his paintings. Begleiter the word can signify compiled personality types, certain historical witnesses, fellow travelers yet to be identified, or supporters, but they could also be less identifiable feelings, positive or negative, guardian angels, or recurring nightmares of a life-path that, in the meantime, has covered fifty years. A total of 120 paintings are on view in Leipzig and Munich. Selected in close cooperation with Neo Rauch, the works are taken from a period that began around twenty years ago. Many of the paintings, some of which are large-format works, have never been shown before in Germany. Strong demand led to a paradoxical situation in which the paintings ended up in private hands almost as soon as they were finished in the studio. Both parts of the exhibition deliberately dispense with a strict chronological order for the works. Rather, they are subdivided according to atmospheric aspects, which enable the characteristic, oft recurring themes, motifs, and artistic conceptions to emerge all the more clearly. Neo Rauch first appeared before the public in a large exhibition in At the time, he received a prize from the Leipziger Volkszeitung, which, together with the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, had organized his personal exhibition. Neo Rauch s biography as an artist is chara c- teristic of those associated with the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig. Like Bernhard Heisig, Werner Tübke, Sighard Gille, Arno Rink, and many others before him, he was active at this academy as a student, assistant lecturer, and professor. His oeuvre is rooted in a tradition practiced there of the storyteller and arranger of myths with a distinct mastery of the craft. The end of his teaching activity in 2009 has therefore been interpreted, not without reason, as a caesura, and as the end of a historical chapter in his education and career as a teacher. The first large retrospective of Neo Rauch s works was held exactly ten years ago and it was also organized in a close collaboration between Leipzig and Munich. Back then, it was the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst in Leipzig that cooperated with the Haus der Kunst in Munich as part of an exhibition tour. Thus, Neo Rauch is not unknown to the public in Munich. A few years later, shortly after the Pinakothek der Moderne opened, Rauch was also shown there, in a dialogue with the sculptor Manfred Pernice, who was almost exactly the same age. At around the same time, PIN: Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne, acquired the first Neo Rauch painting for the museum. Wahl, a work from 1998, is the symbol of the current exhibition for the Munich portion of the show whereas Leipzig is advertising with a coronation scene it purchased in 2008, which is being shown here publicly for the first time. Without the many lenders to this show, many of whom are private parties, it would not have been possible to offer such a comprehensive, multifaceted survey that reveals an evolution in the artist s work that was formulated with great mastery. We are sincerely grateful to all of them. Such an exhibition project could not be realized without the help of third parties. In this case, we have to thank, above all, the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe: for the support of the exhibition in Leipzig, we are grateful to the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung together with the Sparkasse Leipzig; for the sponsorship of the exhibition in Munich, we are indebted to the Bayerische Sparkassenstiftung, the Kulturfonds of the Deutsche Sparkassen- und Giroverband, as well as the Sparkasse München. Their combined generous commitment made it possible to implement these two exhibitions. Our gratitude also goes out to VNG Verbundnetz Gas AG as well as to the associations of supporters of both the Förderer des Museums der bildenden Künste Leipzig and PIN: Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne for their active support. Bernhart Schwenk in Munich initiated the project and was responsible for curating it. Simone Kober was responsible, in close cooperation with Claudia Klugmann in Leipzig, for transportation and insurance. Jörg Dittmer and Sylva Dörfer conceived the publicity campaign and marketing in Leipzig, which was handled in Munich by Tine Nehler and her colleagues. Dietmar Stegemann and his team in Munich, and Torsten Cech and his team in Leipzig handled the installation of the exhibition at the respective venue. Conservation was in the capable hands of Rüdiger Beck and his team in Leipzig as well as those of Irene Glanzer and Kerstin Luber in Munich. Steffi Klopsch and Robert Kirchmaier directed the administrative activities of this anything but ordinary cooperative project. As representatives of all those who contributed to the project, we owe them our thanks. The present bibliophile exhibition catalogue documents both parts of the exhibition and supplements their selection of works with additional illustrations. We are grateful to Annette Kulenkampff of Hatje Cantz Verlag for her commitment to this book as publisher. In collaboration with her team, Maria Magdalena Koehn, a reliable partner in dialogue with Neo Rauch regarding all questions of aesthetic communication, produced an extraordinary design for the book. Descriptions of the works by art historians, critics, and fellow artists, such as Michaël Borremans, Hartwig Ebersbach, Jonathan Meese, and Luc Tuymans, provide very exceptional access to this oeuvre. The essay by Uwe Tellkamp, written especially for this occasion, offers a unique approach to this oeuvre. We are deeply indebted to all who contributed to the success of this publication. To Gerd Harry Lybke and his team from the Galerie Eigen + Art, Leipzig / Berlin, we would like to express our thanks for coming to our aid on numerous occasions. Neo Rauch supported the exhibition and publication with great sensitivity from the outset. His personal contribution of publishing two lithographs especially for the exhibition venues deserves our utmost appreciation. We are therefore extremely grateful to the artist and his wife Rosa Loy. Hans-Werner Schmidt director, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig Klaus Schrenk general director, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich 4 / 5 I don t fit in your system, but you fit in mine Dreams and memories are resources of artistic production interwoven with a pronounced density of subjectivity. Having slipped into images, they remain instances of reassurance for the artist; they testify to a primal impulse and the step-by-step working out of those particles of the image that determine memory, both fleeting and over time, and that need to be fixed in juxtaposition in the course of selfreassurance (Selbstvergewisserung). Neo Rauch provides a very graphic description of this process: These halfawake moments in which the flotsam accumulates in my catch basin and rearranges itself to a new organization are the essence of my painting This is why I believe that I can view painting as the continuation of the dream with other media. 1 These expeditions in the transitional zones between the unconscious and the conscious are borne in Neo Rauch s works by a strong self-assertiveness one that approaches reactions to these expeditions offensively, one that inserts the adversary, as it were, into the pictorial staging and direction. The following remarks explore this. The medium of painting, which is like an elixir of life for Neo Rauch, is a recurrent theme in the artist s work. He is interested in both the genesis of paintings as well as their public reputation within a context that, today, is thought to be described, most aptly, as the operating system art. Titles like Museum, Unerträglicher Naturalismus, Malerei, and Abstraktion bear witness to an aggressively waged debate surrounding a medium to which features of the anachronistic and life-prolonging measures have been attributed repeatedly by a conservative clientele whose discourse has been dispersed, particularly in the past five decades. Museum, 1996, oil on paper on canvas, cm / in. 6 / 7 In a conversation in December 2009, Neo Rauch and I pondered a ten-year stretch of his oeuvre, making stops at fifteen works that address the subject of painting and how to approach it. 2 Neo Rauch exhibited at the Overbeck-Gesellschaft in Lübeck in 1995, and one year later, at the Kunstverein in Düsseldorf. He also painted Museum (p. 7), a work that, with its depiction of large-scale halls, is hardly a reflection his personal exhibition experience at the time. Neo Rauch speaks unequivocally of the dream that visualized such spaces for him. In looking back, he refers ironically to a capacity for prophecy, for such cubic volumes only became a reality in the new Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig, which opened its doors at the end of Museum is one of those paintings from the mid-nineteennineties that do not define a compulsory pictorial space but rather, an agglomeration of the fragmentary via a variety of vanishing points, and the concurrent potential for new groupings of pictorial zones. The left segment inside this structure shows the idea of that large-scale exhibition space, with sculptural works, a large monochrome, and an attention-grabbing painting in the center. Even though this painting has only been provided with the qualities of impression, for reference purposes, Rauch does manage to conjure a Velásquez, admittedly, one diagonally faced by a massive lead plate, taken from the gamut of materials Anselm Kiefer employed. Two great masters meet on this Der Durchblick, 1997, oil on canvas, cm / 43¼ 79 in. canvas: Kiefer strengthens the grandeur of a Velásquez, and this, under the direction of Rauch. The museum benches have an expansiveness that lends the furniture as a whole the quality of a seating landscape ; inside this landscape, Rauch has placed a barracks construction with a cross-shaped ground plan. This establishing of a foundation (Fundamentierung) derived, as it is, from architectural language, specifically, the uniform alignment toward all four points of the compass, is ennobling and causes the temporary, makeshift architecture to lose its provisional character much like the spherical forms in the bottommost zone of the image stand, each one individually, for changeability while, at the same time, representing equalizing correspondence and thus, stability within the system. Deep in the center of the image, we discover a monstrous snake finding its way in its semi-hidden circumstances. It represents a potential for unrest in the overall structure, referencing the earth s energetic, yet unpredictable forces amongst the interlocking zones of museum scenery and indefinite bivouacking. In Museum, Neo Rauch designates the dream as bearer of the museum landscape. In Der Durchblick, however, it is images of memory that are seen emerging from the zones of darkness. The scene unfolds in a large-scale, rear-view mirror that has been embedded in variously textured fields. Neo Rauch completed his military service with the National People s Army between 1978 and 1981, and in Der Durch blick, the memory image of the Gefechtspark remains alive those maintenance halls erected for tanks in which, during the winter months, large-scale Bunsen burners were placed under tank tracks to bring the machinery to operating temperature. In Der Durchblick, we see sculptures, in which the forms of air and floatation vehicles have been fused, standing on platforms with scissor-shaped substructures. In the foreground, a Bunsen burner on a giant steel plate realizes its heat as it apparently has done many times before, for on the walls surrounding the sculptural ensemble we see additional plates displaying traces of fire having become form. The memory image of the tank maintenance hall, the burner workshop for heating up military potential, has become a museum showroom in which paintings preserve traces of energy realization. A reference to the works of Jannis Kounellis is certainly justified here. The work at the rear accentuating the end of the hall has an internal structure that matches that of the image s base zone, which has been left in a rough state. Rauch, thus, points to abstraction as raw material raw material for which the artist is specially suited (Sonderer), to confront in order to con vert into figuration. Artistic energy is deployed in a goaldirected way in order to reach the physical state of fixing form, raising it from the flow of the constellations of possibilities. The Durchblick (look through) is a Rückblick (look back) that shapes point of view under the sovereignty of memory in matters of form. Two different authors have felt compelled to consider Sucher in this catalogue. 3 The painting can be described as follows: A canvas has been placed on an easel, in front of which are two buckets of paint, as if called up for action. But without brushes, how is the paint to get on the canvas? The seeker has turned his back on these things. Instead of the tools of a painter, he wields a probe and via headphones, concentrates on its deflections; as a result, he fails to notice the beam of energy that comes from above, out of nowhere, and that impregnates the canvas as if an act of annunciation. The artist has removed himself from the event, abandoning the action space to magic. Rauch is thus satirizing Sigmar Polke s ironic treatment of creative inspiration, the idea of the artist as a medium of higher powers, for example, Polke s Höhere Wesen befahlen: rechte obere Ecke schwarz malen! (Higher powers command: paint the upper right corner black!, 1969), whose title is inscribed into the work itself. Despite seismographic alignment, the seeker has turned away from the canvas and lost contact to the work surfac a surface on which he as painter should, in dialogue with mental images and their projection, strike it lucky in terms of an instance of self-reassurance (Selbstvergewisserung). In Rauch, the site of the canvas becomes a crystallization point for all those images that circulate in Sucher, 1997, oil on canvas, cm / ¾ in. the pictorial memory without boundary or restraint and that form ever new constellations as they await dramaturgical rendering. The title Unerträglicher Naturalismus (p. 10) references a confrontational situation between artist and art critic. In this painting, the much-criticized painter doesn t exactly hold back in his choice of means for countering such a critical attack. Having exchanged his brush for a rifle and by constantly reloading, he riddles his target with bullets, the paper tiger of criticism. 4 The artist thereby goes about settling a score with the art critic and nothing throws him off course. The artist finds his steadfastness, his sturdiness in Rauch, always emphasized via pronounced leg muscles in the cut-out section of the kidney-shaped table placed in front of him, the command post, as it were, in the living room setting. In this scene, the artist is both destructive and constructive. As marksman, he perforates the critic while, at the same time, the bullet holes float through the space like extracted discs that grow larger and larger. One such shape finds its way onto the canvas, where it leaves its image as a cast shadow. The painter takes on the role of the performer and thus, counteracts the insufferable 8 / 9 naturalist shortcoming of which he is presumably accused. Additional people on benches criticism in the guise of a school group follow the artist s confrontation with his critic, observing, as the artist incorporates the latter into his terrain by way of disassembly, in free adaptation of Ernst Jünger s I don t fit in your system, but you fit in mine. 5 In a second scene, the artist approaches the canvas with the power of two smoke stacks; in front of the canvas, the circle from the critic s body follows its trajectory. And so, insufferable naturalism is incorporated into both naturalistic settings and plays its role as directed by the muchcriticized artist. Likewise, the painting Wahl takes us inside a studio. The painter stands on a stepladder working on two easels. A bundle of cables feeding into the studio from the outside and a crowded collection of paint cans, stocked with brushes, point to a energetic, labor-intensive site of production. But here, artistic work is subject to the act of repetition. The brushwork follows the guidelines of a stencil. The infantil ized face, also a reflection, is being mass-produced underground seems, however, to be readying for a liberation strike with an ice pick in a setting of instable hominess, where a television-fireplace provides only virtual warmth. The man, identified as SUB, turns up again in a drawing from 2009 as an inhabitant of a reed fen. His terrain is the transitional zone between water and land that in Rauch s language is equivalent to a passage between the unconscious and the conscious. Meanwhile, outside the SUB pavilion, a search commando is on the move and this attracts the attention of the fur-vest man, who becomes a regular in Rauch s staffage. Around 2000, it looked like the art of painting at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig in Leipzig which critics of the time contextualized in a fur-vest and red-wine milieu was go
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