Neo Rauch “At the Well”

David Zwirner 19th Street

poster for Neo Rauch “At the Well”

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David Zwirner presents an exhibition of new works by Neo Rauch, on view at 533 West 19th Street in New York. At the Well brings together small and large format paintings that expand the artist’s unique iconography of eccentric figures, animals, and hybrids within vaguely familiar but imaginary settings.

Born in 1960 in Leipzig, then East Germany, Rauch is part of a generation of artists who came of age in a war-torn, divided country. He spent his youth in the Eastern Bloc, and received his arts education at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. The impermeable border within Germany famously tempered the advance of Western avant-garde movements in the East, where figurative painting maintained its predominance. Not until the end of the 1990s did a shift become apparent, and Rauch, then in his late twenties, came to spearhead a break with the existing dogma.

His paintings are characterized by a unique combination of realism and surrealist abstraction. In many of his compositions, human figures engaged in indeterminable tasks work against backdrops of mundane architecture, industrial settings, or bizarre and often barren landscapes. These figures, though squarely centered in his paintings, often have the appearance of being part of still lifes. Scale is frequently arbitrary and non-perspectival, and differences between the characters seem to allude to different time zones or planes of existence.

In the present show, Rauch continues this collage-like approach to his paintings. In Heillichtung, which measures three meters tall and five meters wide, a rectangular “insert” shows a complementary scene which is visually distinct from the main composition. A man lies on a stretcher while several people gather around him. A satellite-like dish in the background could indicate a telepathic link between the primary subject and the added scene, and abstract biomorphic shapes add to a sense of mysterious mutability. Hüter der Nacht similarly shows a man lying down, this time in a bed while a woman tends to his needs with claw-like gloves and a uniformed male figure pauses at an entrance with a broom. The English translation of the title means “Guardian of the Night” and the sweeper, in this light, seems to become a symbolic stand-in for removing the contents of the day before the dawn of the next.



from November 06, 2014 to December 20, 2014

Opening Reception on 2014-11-06 from 18:00 to 20:00


Neo Rauch

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