Friday, April 23, 2010

Neo Rauch 50

German painter and frontman of the so called 'Neue Leipziger Schule' has turned 50. This is celebrated with two exhibitions, in Munich and Leipzig. Mr. Rauch is a big star. Brad Pitt payed a million dollars for one of his paintings, he drives a porsche and has a boxing punch bag in his studio. Still, he refuses all offers he gets to move to New York where artist can be like rockstars, something I don't think is possible in Germany. His choice to stay in his old factory in Leipzig and focus on painting 15 to 20 paintings a year shows dedication and hard work. Being a rockstar is not his thing. Leave that to the gallerist. Mr Lybke from gallery Eigen+Art in Auguststra├če is the extravagant art dealer that created the myth around contemporary art coming from behind the iron curtain, shielded from the influence of Joseph Beuys, where craft is added to modern elements. Lybke created a hype, mostly among American collectors and prices went skyhigh. They love this DDR mistique in the states, but in Germany some grumpy critics have filed Rauch's art as a 'Wendeproduct' His work has been called 'kitsch', and 'without feeling' by ZDF. Der Spiegel on the contrary is very charmed of him and enjoys the retrospectives we can see now. So like all things that stick out one way or another, opinions are divided and that's how it should be. I like the works very much, from a technical point of view as an illustrator, but moreso the dreamy underbelly feelings they rise. It has some well painted figurative elements to hold on to and leaves you free to go anywhere from there. I like that.

I also like the fact that Neo Rauch is a worker. He does not like to talk about his work, refuses to explain it and leaves all business to the gallerist. Who makes sure all works are sold like fresh buns from the bakery. This means we can't really see the vast majority of his work since they are kept at mr. Pitt's mansion. Therefore I am looking forward to going down to Leipzig and see a bunch of giant paintings that are without a doubt going to make me want to paint more. Who's coming with me?!

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