George Baselitz, Images and Memory

The world of Georg Baselitz’s art is his recurring images and the memories of German expressionism of 1910s, which is all about telling inner truths about reality. His world is the memories of 1950s and 1960s anxieties, the influence of the American avant-garde, Willem de Kooning and the painting style of 1980. There is also the simplicity of seated and upright figures and brilliant, moving colors as well as a lack of commentary and a large scale format.

In the context of new art debates about Manifesta12, fake news, communication, in the times of constant flux of art  on small personal digital screens, the visitors of Georg Baselitz’s exhibition are sometimes puzzled by his recurring, monumental, impasto images, alienated by being put upside-down , in a « left », dada-style technique. The small screen format is not enough to capture this nihilism of street art.


Georg Baselitz, photo artdecision.eu

Baselitz said: “I hate working with oil paints, I hate tempera, I hate pastels, I hate brushes, I hate the canvas. I just find all this equipment terrible….But then when I go to see a painter-friend in a studio I haven’t visited before, and I smell the oil paint, straight away I feel at home, and I feel great”. (Gretenkort)

Georg Baselitz « Thé Orange Eater »

The series “Orange eater” depicts full-body and profile figures with their arms bent, hands  raised, circular round accents around the eyes.  This is an ancient Egyptian formula of a man with the orange solar symbol, and at the same time it resembles an eye-catching, left-wing graffiti, street art.

Graffiti artist often place slogans on their images, and there is the word ZERO on some of Baselitz’s paintings and sculptures. The artist told in an interview, that ZERO is the name of the paint shop, where he bought paints. But we can not avoid the radical, polemic activism of “ZERO” inscription, and as according to L.Witgenstein, language does not provide private understanding, even if the speaker refers to what is known only to him ( there is no private language argument) – “zero” is understood as “zero”- which is a symbol of abstraction.

Written by: Irina Vernichenko


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