Grady's Reviews > Neo Rauch: Paintings

Neo Rauch by Hans-Werner Schmidt
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Sep 28, 11


Neo Rauch the Iconoclast

Neo Rauch, born 18 April 1960, in Leipzig, East Germany, is a German artist whose paintings 'mine the intersection of his personal history with the politics of industrial alienation. His work reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, although Rauch hesitates to align himself with surrealism. He studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, and he lives in Markkleeberg near Leipzig, Germany and works as the principal artist of the New Leipzig School.' Though Rauch's paintings are narrative in content, their meanings go far deeper. "Architectural elements peter out; men in uniform from throughout history intimidate men and women from other centuries; great struggles occur but their reason is never apparent; styles change at a whim."

Reared on Social Realism, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Rauch gained full exposure to the larger world of international art and he soon was being compared to de Chirico and Stanley Spencer creatng a scool of 'Post-Communist Surrealism" -'men and women from various historical eras performing obscure tasks in uniform, or midway through some ominous occasion--shifting styles several times within the same picture, but always displaying a lush brushwork.' His work continues to evolve but remains with his signature palette and quality of figuration. He is now considered as an internationally famous artists along with his close friends Michael Borremans, Luc Tuymans and Jonathan Meese.

To quote the artist, 'I view the process of painting as an extraordinarily natural form of discovering the world, almost natural as breathing. Outwardly it is almost entirely without intention. It is predominantly limited to the process of a concentrated flow. I am deliberately neglecting to contemplate all of the catalytic influences that would have the power to undermine the innocence of this approach because I would like to express a degree of clarity in these lines by way of example. I view myself as a kind of peristaltic filtration system in the river of time.'

The paintings of Neo Rauch seem to include the influence of 1940s movies as though his subjects are trapped in a time warp in which history interacts with spatial configurations and human responses. At first glance his works seem easily accessible, but further study reveals the work of a searching mind - and that is one of the reasons his career is secure. This is a beautifully designed and produced book and well worth the price.

Grady Harp
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