12 Apr - 18 May 2013
André Butzer, Erwin Gross, Thilo Heinzmann, Andy Hope 1930, Per Kirkeby, Eugène Leroy, René Luckhardt
12 April - 18 May 2013
With its 60th exhibition, Galerie Bernd Kugler is delighted to present a compilation of artistic positions that the gallery has successfully represented over the past few years. As Eugène Leroy’s quote in the title suggests, the exhibited works do not so much share a common conceptual approach; instead, the exhibition tries to present a selection of different approaches in contemporary painting and – in the case of Leroy, who died in 2000 – the recent, but nonetheless relevant, past.
This exhibition attempts to emphasize the observation of interactions in the process of painting: the act of painting itself, the emergence of the picture, which the viewer can experience as a painting and through the painting’s material quality. And, as in the case of Eugène Leroy, all the works brought together in this exhibition are a manifold confrontation with a painter’s means and possibilities.
In other words, they enclose a biography which, in a way, has been “inscribed” in them. This, too, is a secret and, if you will, the proof of a genuine interest in painting.
According to the artist’s own definition, the earlier works of André Butzer (*1973) are to be categorized as a kind of “Science-Fiction-Expressionism”. In the tradition of German Expressionism, André Butzer developed a very color-intensive style of painting, occasionally grotesque in form. In recent years, a new series of works, called the “N” paintings, have evolved; minimalistic geometric patterns are first painted on a gray, then a white, foundation, in a multitude of shades and nuances. The converging vertical and horizontal rectangles convey the tension in the relationship between beginning and end, between life and death. André Butzer has participated in numerous international solo and group exhibitions, such as MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2013), Saatchi Gallery London (2011), Kestnergesellschaft Hannover (2011), Kunsthistorisches Museum – Theseustempel (2011), Kunsthalle Nürnberg (2009), MUMOK (2008)
Erwin Gross (* 1953) studied at “de Ateliers” in Haarlem (the Netherlands) and at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe (Germany), where he has been a professor of painting since 1990. For 30 years, Erwin Gross has dedicated his work to the principles of landscape painting, focusing in particular on the shift between illustration and abstraction. In numerous working steps, color pigments of low viscosity are applied to the untreated cotton canvas. This watercolor-like painting style produces “alla prima” delicate color traces (without any preliminary sketching), which are often only vaguely reminiscent of structures of plants, water and light or of “elements of a continuously flowing and regenerating landscape” (Ralph Ubl). Works of Erwin Gross are included, among others, in public collections such as the Deutsche Bank Collection, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam or the ZKM Karlsruhe.
From a very early stage, Thilo Heinzmann (*1969) abandoned the traditional form of painting in search of different possibilities in this medium. In addition to the careful selection of materials (color pigments, styrofoam, porcelain, aluminum, fur ...), he has paid particular attention to the materials’ dialogue within the whole composition. The “gesture” as an artistic concept plays a decisive role, especially in the case of his pigment works. Materiality becomes the imagery of painting. “In his pigment paintings, the diffusion of pigment produces a poetic and an atmospherically rich touch – a hint of weightlessness and drifting attuned to the pictographic declaration of equality of material texture and composition.” (Michael Bracewell) Works of Thilo Heinzmann are included in the following collections, among others: Tate Modern London, IVAM Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Oklahoma City Museum of Art
In his biography Andy Hope 1930, the artist’s birth date is missing, but the year 1930 refers to a certain artistic debate: it is the time when Russian Constructivism (a form of expression of abstract art, in parallel with the Dadaism of the 1020s) is drawing to a close, while simultaneously the medium of comic strips is developing more and more strongly. In a series of works created in 2011, Andy Hope 1930 shows the disappearance of concreteness under certain buzz words often used in comic strips. Under the buzz word “Astounding”, all that is left is a painted surface to represent the material dimension of painting, while the imagery, as well as all other clues, disappear. Solo exhibitions (selection): Kestnergesellschaft Hanover (2012), Freud Museum London (2010), Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Malaga (2011), Goetz Collection (2009), Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus Munich (2005).
Per Kirkeby (*1938) counts among the most internationally renowned Danish artists. His interest in geology and nature in general plays an important role in his artistic forms of expression. Per Kirkeby takes the study of natural forms as his point of origin, and attempts to translate them into artistic structures. How can observations be retained? How can the limits of perception be transcended artistically? Like sediment, Per Kirkeby elaborates on his landscapes with every layer of paint. This technique creates ambiguous geological metaphors, spheres of uncertainty in an almost lyrical form. The works of Per Kirkeby are included, among others, in the collections of the Tate Gallery/London, the Museum of Modern Art/New York, the Metropolitan Museum/New York and the Centre Pompidou/Paris.
“Like fields, like stone, like wood, like moss, like scent” – this is what Georg Baselitz writes in his short and concise text on Eugène Leroy (1910 – 2000), describing the very essence of these paintings. (...) From the seemingly diffused material mass of paint, the patient observer will be able to make out coloristically formed shapes. Mass of paint as the dimension of the image is probably the most obvious characteristic underlying the works of Leroy: color as a material, as it were to form – from which shall be formed. (...) Nothing is, as his painting is to be interpreted: everything only becomes once the beholder looks at it. It will, however, vanish again. This deep dimension can be seen in Leroy’s landscapes as well as in his portraits and his flowers, his seasons and his paintings in the style of Giorgione.” (Ausst. Kat. Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen (Eds.): Alles ist Farbe. Eugène Leroy, Düsseldorf 2000, S. 133-134.) Most recently, works of Eugène Leroy were shown in the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville in Paris (2012/2013 „La Collection Michael Werner“).
René Luckhardt’s (*1972) early oil paintings are characterized by the earthy, gloomy colors the artist obtains by applying several coatings and new layers of paint. This process generates powerful structures and elevations on the painting’s surface, reminiscent of landscapes, wrinkles or scars. They can only evolve in a lengthy process and represent temporality incorporated in the painting. This kind of painting is nowadays referred to as “Kellerloch-Painting” by the artist. A catalogue with the same title will be published this year on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition in Berlin with previously unseen works. René Luckhardt is also founder and head of an internationally renowned project-space for artists called “Wonderloch Kellerland”, which is listed in the Art Spaces Directory of the New Museum in New York.