Sunday, December 10, 2006

Netherlands v. Germany until 21.01.07 GEM, The Hague, (NL)

Schilderkunst Nederland – Deutschland Malerei examines the current revival in neo-romantic, neo-realist painting. It does so by pairing off three Dutch artists with three German ones: Matthias Weischer (D) with Aaron van Erp (NL), David Schnell (D) with Tjebbe Beekman (NL), and Martin Eder (D) with Rezi van Lankveld (NL). The aim is to expose the similarities and differences between their work, in terms both of content and style.

Recent years have seen a boom in neo-romantic and neo-realist painting. This has been reflected in the escalation of prices at international auction to levels unprecedented in the contemporary art market. The revival in no way involves the kind of retour à l’ordre that occurred in the 1920s and ’30s. Today’s neo-romantic and neo- realist painters experiment as easily with modernist elements like form, brushstroke and colour as with the academic rules, often in one and the same painting. Moreover, since the advent of post-modernism, it has once again become possible to laugh and cry in art without becoming toe-curlingly sentimental or slushily romantic. For this exhibition, guest curator Jhim Lamoree and GEM director Wim van Krimpen, have chosen artists whose work resounds with the fever of time. They share a romantic view of life which leads them to express not so much an ideal as the uncertainty of existence. The three representatives of new German painting - Martin Eder, David Schnell and Matthias Weischer - were all born in West Germany, but deliberately chose to train at art schools in the former GDR, where emphasis is still placed on the craft aspects of art. Their work is deliberately exhibited in combination with that of Dutch contemporaries.
The work of Aaron van Erp and Matthias Weischer is hermetic and oppressive. Both focus on the psychological confusion caused by external pressures. In the case of Weischer, the claustrophobia of the narrow living spaces he depicts is almost physically palpable; in Van Erp’s paintings, the melancholy and hope still present in Weischer’s work descend into mania. Tjebbe Beekman and David Schnell produce landscapes reflecting the condition of our society. Beekman, who lives and works in Berlin, allows social tensions to infiltrate his compositions, while Schnell addresses the myth of nature. Both make occasional explicit use of scientific perspective, drawing the viewer almost literally into the scene.
Rezi van Lankveld en Martin Eder work with the subconscious mind: obsessions, frustrations and nightmares of every kind. Whereas Van Lankveld seems to conjure her pictures out of thin air, Eder browses through art history and the mass media to produce his semi-surreal images.


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