'Leaves or paper rustling' is one among several translations of the German phrase Blätterrausch—a fitting, poetic descriptor for this collection of prints by renowned German artist Neo Rauch. Rauch is highly regarded for his work as a distinguished painter, whose figurative imagery and surrealist abstraction mine personal histories, romantic allegories, and familiar yet imaginary settings, in which scale is often arbitrary. There are rich conversational moments between the artist’s prints and paintings, wherein certain pieces depict time at a standstill, but the prints themselves are hardly preliminary works, nor simply imitative sketches of his paintings. The complete spectrum of Rauch’s print work has been laboured over for more than two decades, realised in collagraph and giclée print as well as engraving, lithography, and silkscreen.
Colour fields and enigmatic pictorial landscapes are drawn from the surroundings of his print studio in Leipzig, where he works with a master lithographer to achieve his prints. The muted palette of his multicoloured lithography adds to the atmospheric motif, in which backdrops of barren architecture and foliage surround hybrid characters in strained or leisurely activity. Each singular charade suggests a mythic theatre of simple, communal living. These intricate lithographs are created by either brushing or etching into stone, before the surface is coated in a solution that allows the ink to better penetrate it. Multiple colours are then reproduced through a careful series of 'colour runs.' One inked stone is required for each colour, attaining the painterly effect of watercolours or gouaches.
'By superimposing the various colour states, you can achieve lovely velvety depths. This in general is what fascinates me about lithography. That it’s actually a very painterly medium.'—Neo Rauch, as quoted in the exhibition catalogue Rosa Loy, Neo Rauch: Die Strickerin/The Knitter (2018)
This selection of prints is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Neo Rauch, Propaganda, at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, on view through May 4, 2019. Propaganda (2019), a single-colour lithograph print, complements the painting of the same moniker, featured in the artist’s exhibition in Hong Kong. While varied in composition, the painting and the print share particular visual elements and personae. Other works have been made available from Rauch’s print studio exclusively for this Viewing Room.
Press release courtesy David Zwirner.