A window opened to German painting

By Daniel Suen and Christy Hui

Goethe-Institut Hongkong exhibition at the Arts Centre gives six emerging German artists a Hong Kong showcase.

As Art Basel comes to town, the Goethe-Institut Hongkong is opening Statement 2: New Painting from Germany, which showcases six emerging German painters of distinct styles. The exhibition marks an attempt to show the variety and diversity of the burgeoning German contemporary art scene. “We feel that German paintings have a very good reputation in China,” said Christoph Noe, co-curator of the exhibition and director of the Ministry of Art, a platform promoting Chinese contemporary art. “We know Germany has a very long painting tradition. Our idea is to bring this over to match with the strong painting tradition of China.” The selections are weighted on emerging German artists of different styles of figurative traditions and abstract paintings.

Paintings by Christoph Ruckhäberle; Artworks made of cloth in the background by Florian Meisenberg . Photos: Daniel Suen (first Picture) and Claire Li Yingxue.
Paintings by Christoph Ruckhäberle and . Photos: Daniel Suen (first Picture) and Claire Li Yingxue.

A total of 22 paintings make up the exhibition, featuring three to five paintings per artist. Painters, born in the 70s and 80s, gave their work a feeling of the region they reside in. One example is New York-based Florian Meisenberg, who paints on the clothes and silks hung on flagpoles with exaggerated signs and texts like banners found around the States. Sebastian Neeb’s works originate from conventional art topics and developed into a new style with abstract materials. The size of his works is worth to look, miniature with delicacy, which is the extension of the idea of painting. A hybrid with theatrical elements demonstrate small stories behind that needs to see twice.

His Knowing All The Tricks!, an oil painting, depicts in traditional fashion a worn man next to the sickbed of some person who is cut out of the frame. Next to this main frame, linked with a waxed string, are two smaller boards painted with bold colours; minimalist shapes painted in juxtaposition, which hijack the man’s gaze and prompts the viewer to rethink his emotions. Tanja Rochelmeyer’s paintings are illogical and reflective through illusion of space. Sparked from hard geometric shapes that resembles digital images and architecture, she creates 2D graphics with computer assistance before putting brush to canvas.

The O.T. (1513) is almost like a building´s software-generated plan, with sharp, colourful angular shapes breaking out from the pseudo-perspective planes built by the enveloping shapes of the “ceiling” and “floor”. The viewer is at liberty to read from a Cubist perspective or to interpret it as the different layers of the internet world.

Two pieces by Sebastian Neeb. Photo: Daniel Suen
Two pieces by Sebastian Neeb. Photo: Daniel Suen

Regarded as the representative of the New Leipzig School, Christoph Ruckhäberle works with vivid colours to produce figurative works that recall the repeated patterns of 70s German wallpapers as in his Sommer. The folk element opens a door to illustration and animation styles that are fun and joyful. His interest in the cinematic and carnivalesque are evident, Noe said. While diversity and variety were the goal, with the intensity and strength each painting exhibits they opted for a small number of artists so viewers could savour each artist’s style better, Noe said. “We want the viewers to leave having the feeling of the artists’ works.”

The exhibition is part of the VIP Programme of Hong Kong Art Basel 2015. The co-curator said that they hoped the German paintings could reach more people from around Asia. The exhibition is at the Goethe Gallery at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in Wan Chai until April 11 and then moves to the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi afterwards.

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