Neo Rauch, born in 1960 in Leipzig, is undoubtedly the most exceptional and intensely discussed international German artist of his generation. The Pinakothek der Moderne
in Munich and the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig are staging a comprehensive exhibition of his oeuvre to be held at the two venues at the same time.
60 paintings will be shown in both Leipzig and Munich. Working closely with Neo Rauch himself, the works selected have been taken from all phases of the artists creative development that began some twenty years ago. A conscious decision has been made to avoid a strict chronological presentation of the works. Instead, they are grouped according to climatic aspects that make frequently repeated themes and motifs that much clearer. Many of the mostly large-format paintings have never been exhibited in Europe before. The majority are from private collections and are being shown to the general public for the first time.
Neo Rauchs painting focuses on social issues and the psychic state of our modern culture that finds expression in the most varied media and more than ever before is defined by these. Rauchs work mirrors the early 21st century as a period of enlightenment and disenlightenment in equal measure, as an era of global revelation and concealment, of intentional disinformation and unconcealed lying. Old and new pictorial motifs become intermingled, myths rewritten and paraphrased, alternative identities created, images manipulated and unmasked, celebrated and damned.
Neo Rauchs works are an impressive reflection of the specific mood of our times. His pictures are marked by their intense drama and profound sense of loneliness, their surrealism and mystery. His unmistakable painterly style picks up on the arthistorical tradition of major artists such as Titian, Tintoretto and El Greco, who are represented in the Alte Pinakothek by works of exceptional importance. The artist himself has cited Beckmann, Bacon, Beuys and Baselitz as modern points of reference, whose works are also to be found in the vicinity.
Stylistic features in the works graphic elements, template-like outlines and sometimes the picture sheet impression created condense into a contextual statement. Awkward correlations are forged by the collage-like combination of individual motifs, with spaces and objects as well as the costumes, postures and rituals of the protagonists, who seem to be mere cut-outs, evoking their own meanings. As a result, Rauchs pictures deny any narrative illusionism and underline their fundamental model-like character. The world appears as a stage.
Seemingly rooted to the past but actually timeless when observed more closely, a form of social criticism can be found in Neo Rauchs painting which appears that much more convincing when separated from any alleged historical basis. With an unfamiliar vibrancy and what would appear to be hackneyed material and an unusable vocabulary, the pictures enable an active examination of thought and behavioural processes that have long become too rigid.
They challenge the critical questioning of ideologically biased pictorial formulae and advocate an aesthetic freedom void of prejudice.