Adrian Ghenie Biography

Based in Berlin, Adrian Ghenie is a Romanian artist whose contemporary paintings fuse the figurative and the abstract, drawing on deep, dark personal and historical states of mind.

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Adrian Ghenie's Early Years

Born in 1977 in Baia Mare, Romania, Adrian Ghenie studied at the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, graduating in 2001. After working as an artist in Vienna and Sicily, he returned to Cluj to establish Galeria Plan B with Mihai Pop in 2005. Initiated as a platform for the presentation of contemporary Romanian artists, the gallery opened its second space in Berlin in 2008.

Renaissance Mastery of Chiaroscuro to Painterly Abstraction

The Romanian painter borrows stylistically from across the art historical canon, from the sombre, dramatic chiaroscuro of Renaissance painting to the Abstract Expressionists' experimentations with texture and surface.

The use of a palette knife instead of a brush forms the basis of Adrian Ghenie's oil painting technique: pouring and dripping paint and making broad marks with the knife on the painted surface. The resulting oil paintings combine realistic, figurative elements with varying degrees of fragmentation and abstraction. His style has been compared to Francis Bacon.

Historical Muses: From Hitler to Duchamp

The intensity of the abstraction is tied to the subjects of the artist's works. A complex interplay between the historical and the personal, Adrian Ghenie's paintings examine the psychological state of individuals, principally figures of historical influence.

Among Ghenie's historic subjects include instigators of great suffering, such as Hitler, Lenin, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Nazi war criminal, Josef Mengele. Others of a less violent persuasion include groundbreaking figures such as evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin and artists like Vincent van Gogh and Marcel Duchamp.

Auction Success and International Representation

Ghenie's distinctive practice quickly stood out on the international art scene, attracting the attention of institutions and influential collectors. Since first appearing at auction in 2011, Ghenie's oil on canvas paintings have rapidly increased in value on the secondary art market. Nickelodeon (2008), an ominous two-part painting acquired by François Pinault in 2009 for approximately €60,000, sold at Christie's for £7.1 million just seven years later.

On Ghenie's development as an artist since his solo exhibition at Galerie Judin back in 2007, Juerg Judin explains to Ocula Advisory, '...you realise that an incredibly intelligent but equally courageous painter has steadily intensified his goal of achieving great narratives with ever more abstraction'. ⁠

Alongside various solo and group exhibitions in galleries and institutions across Europe and America, Adrian Ghenie has participated in numerous international biennials, including the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, where he represented Romania.

A 2021 solo exhibition of Ghenie's recent works, We Had Everything Before Us, is running at Galerie Judie, Berlin, from 1 May through to 10 July.

Solo and Group Exhibitions

Adrian Ghenie's solo exhibitions include The Hooligans, Pace Gallery, New York (2020); Adrian Ghenie, Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp (2020); The Battle Between Carnival and Feast, Palazzo Cini Gallery, Venice (2019); Adrian Ghenie, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Málaga (2014); Golems, Pace Gallery, London (2014); Pie-Fights and Pathos, Museum for Contemporary Art, Denver (2012); Adrian Ghenie, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, (2010); Adrian Ghenie, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest (2009); and If You Open It You Get Dirty, Galeria Plan B, Cluj (2006).

Adrian Ghenie's group exhibitions include Basel by Berlin, Galeria Plan B, Berlin (2020); La Brique, the Brick, Cărămida, La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France (2019); Cher(e)s Ami(e)s, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Mapping Bucharest: Art, Memory, and Revolution 1916–2016, MAK, Vienna, (2015); Six Lines of Flight: Shifting Geographies in Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2012); Burning, Bright: A Short History of the Light Bulb, Pace Gallery, New York (2011); BERLIN SHOW #1, Galeria Plan B, Berlin (2008); and Cluj Connection, Haunch of Venison, Zurich (2006).

Michael Iwrin | Ocula | 2021

Adrian Ghenie
featured artworks

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Study for Studio Scene by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Adrian Ghenie Study for "Studio Scene", 2023 Charcoal on paper
100 x 65 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
The Hotel Room by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork painting
Adrian Ghenie The Hotel Room, 2023 Oil on canvas
210 x 180 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
The Spanish Room by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork painting
Adrian Ghenie The Spanish Room, 2023 Oil on canvas
240 x 210 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
Untitled by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork painting
Adrian Ghenie Untitled, 2023 Oil on canvas
100 x 70 cm
Galeria Plan B Request Price & Availability
Study for Impossible Body by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Adrian Ghenie Study for "Impossible Body", 2023 Charcoal on paper
100 x 65 cm
Galeria Plan B Request Price & Availability
The Beginning by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork painting
Adrian Ghenie The Beginning, 2022 Oil on canvas
220 x 180 cm
Galeria Plan B Request Price & Availability
The Uncle 4 by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork painting
Adrian Ghenie The Uncle 4, 2020 Oil on canvas
230 x 240 cm
Galeria Plan B Request Price & Availability
The Collector by Adrian Ghenie contemporary artwork painting
Adrian Ghenie The Collector, 2008 Oil on canvas
200 x 290 cm
Galeria Plan B Request Price & Availability
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Adrian Ghenie
recent exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in 540 West 25th Street, New York, United States
Pace Gallery Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo +3
Villepin contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong
Villepin Hong Kong
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