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    Complete archive, 1999-present


      Hohe in Neo Rauch: Renegaten
       Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery
    Whither salvation?

    The past tickles the future in new pseudo Social realist fantasies by German painter Neo Rauch.


    Old Europe inhabits the new paintings of Neo Rauch following in the tradition of painting as story telling. Vignettes of old and new are interwoven and take us on a mind tripping journey. Religious themes such as the Prodigal Son are broached in mystical and challenging ways that remain undecipherable and detached. These paintings continue a European tendency of exploring and acknowledging the past.

    Exhibition: Renegaten (Regeneration).
    Works by: Neo Rauch.
    May 9 - June 18, 2005

    Gallery: David Zwirner
    525 West 19th Street
    New York NY
    Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-6
    Phone: (212) 727-2070

    Trained in East German Social realism, Rauch gives the genre a postmodern twist by creating inscrutable stories in a matter of fact way on these epic-sized canvases. The eight paintings have complex compositions, some with angled architectural elements that defy visual sense and set the stage for an unbalanced state of viewing. Painted in a palette of dark, dry and brooding colors, the settings and characters seem to have equal importance.

    The mise en scne of these works is decidedly European, and employs tropes from surrealism, like long deep shadows ala DeChirico, while the juxtapositions and scenarios reference contemporary painters David Salle and Eric Fischl. The paintings suggest rather than dictate, with the characters portrayed being strangely inert. All seems out of place in the facilely painted figures, some wearing period clothing with others in contemporary garb — a realist fantasy, dreamy but solid.

      Loesung in Neo Rauch: Renegaten
       Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery
    The various scenes presented on the same canvas seem to come from different stories making them enigmatic but mentally engaging. "Neue Rollen", 2005 (New Role), is a large diptych showing a scene of merriment with French Revolutionary paraphernalia such as a red bonnet in evidence. The upper right section shows figures in a library with a guillotine. In the foreground a mother shows her child a scale model of tropical destruction.

    One of the most powerful paintings is also one of the simplest, "Der Pate", 2005. In a tall vertical format, an older man in period waist coat stands holds a lantern. A contemporary adolescent boy kneels nearby. Though they exist in close proximity on the picture plane there is no relation between them as they gaze off in different directions, seemingly estranged and unable to relate. The distance between the two resonates, pointing toward the future. "Hohe", 2004, (Height/Pinnacle), presents a peasant man holding two buckets, one full and one empty. A skyscraper looms in the background, perhaps representing a precarious balance where one weighs fate and its consequences.

    In a highly personal take on the interconnected state of globalism Neo Rauch draws attention to our future by regarding the past. With different realities clashing simultaneously, these paintings help question shared history without pointing the way to salvation.

    JUNE 2, 2005

    Reader comments on Neo Rauch: Renegaten:

  • Neo Rauch   from Leo, May 3, 2006

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