Florian Krewer is a New York-based German figurative artist, who trained under Peter Doig.Read More
His large-scale canvases of streetwear-clad youths, ambiguous nudes, and the occasional wild animal draw inspiration from the artist's personal life, seen through the lens of his own imagination: 'my freedom, my space.'
After François Pinault collected his work, the artist's paintings were published in a monograph to accompany the Loewe Spring/Summer 2022 collection.
Krewer was born in Gerolstein, Germany. A distracted school student, he left school at the age of 16, not truly believing it would serve him in his future life. Krewer applied to several jobs—including as a construction draughtsman and a survey technician—before apprenticing as a house painter from 2003 to 2006. Unsatisfied by the work, he managed to gain a place studying architecture at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in 2008, during which he experienced a 'breakthrough moment.'
In a drawing class taught by Professor Nikolaus Bienefeld, the students were asked to observe flowers and trees at different times of the year. Taking the project literally, Krewer realised his affinity for paint as a medium—its 'fluidity and spontaneity'—in contrast to the exacting nature of architecture. Bienefeld encouraged Krewer to apply to Kunstakademie Düsseldorf to study fine arts after completing his BA in Architecture.
From 2011 to 2017, Krewer studied under Peter Doig alongside Constantin Nitsche, Christoph Matthes, Tim Breuer, Lotte Maiwald, and Raphaela Simon. Doig challenged his students to find freedom within their practice and to bring their lives to the art they created, which remains fundamental to Krewer, who describes his tutor as a 'father figure'.
Drawing inspiration from photographs of friends and acquaintances, Florian Krewer's practice delves into the possibilities of urban nightlife—often violent, sensuous, or somewhere in between.
Using loose brushstrokes that retain remnants of the artist's changing composition, his life-size canvases are bathed in inky black, their figures' faces blurred to avoid exactly signifying time or place. Krewer spends long hours in the studio, arriving early to retain the impressions of the previous night as a kind of personal therapy.
In 2020, Krewer exhibited Eyes on Fire with Michael Werner Gallery and TRAMPS, shortly after he moved to New York.
Krewer arrived just as the Covid-19 pandemic began and became sick for several weeks, eventually being hospitalised. When he finally had the strength to return to painting, Krewer found himself mentally and physically drained from the crippling isolation and lack of social stimulus that had previously inspired his work. The resultant works were far more introspective. Captive (2020) depicts an ashen-faced male figure lying on a bed in a cramped, dark room, a monstrous creature leering over him.
In 2021, Krewer's paintings caught the eye of businessman and art collector François Pinault. A selection of Krewer's works were displayed in the exhibition Ouverture in the Bourse de Commerce in dialogue with works by Martin Kippenberger and Thomas Schütte, representing three generations of German contemporary artists. Krewer's two-metre canvases were installed on the floor in two triangular triptychs and radiated enigmatic violence in their blood-red and black tones. The figures—his usual cast of young men in streetwear—appear on the verge of fighting or perhaps dance, their limbs outstretched, as in It's a party – angry (2018).
Krewer's 2021 exhibition ride or fly for Michael Werner's London space presented works that were much more visceral in their subject matter, comprising 'intimate portraits' of friends as his 'adoptive family.' The title was taken from the tattoo covering the artist's neck, meaning 'be positive', reflected in the lurid colour scheme of the paintings. Animals are frequently present or even involved in the full frontal acts, as in ursa minor (2021), where a celestial bear roars behind a nude male figure bent over and splayed. Krewer's frequent inclusion of wild animals symbolise their fluid existence 'without rules and judgement' in the 'wild times' both him and the viewer find themselves in.
In 2017, Krewer was awarded the Beatrice R. Potter Prize for Accomplishment in Painting by the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
Florian Krewer has been the subject of both solo exhibition and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Florian Krewer: ride or fly, Michael Werner Gallery, London (2021); F_lorian Krewer: Eyes on Fire_, Michael Werner Gallery and TRAMPS, New York (2020); A.R. Penck Bronzes & Florian Krewer Paintings, Michael Werner Gallery, East Hampton (2020); Car Park Godiva, Michael Werner Gallery, London (2019); pinkflavor, TRAMPS, New York (2018).
Group exhibitions include Ouverture, Bourse de Commerce, Paris (2021); EVERYTHING IS PERSONAL, TRAMPS, New York (2020); Salon des Amateurs, TRAMPS, London (2018); Buzz, Tom Dick or Harry, Düsseldorf (2016); Mittagstisch, Ladybug House, San Francisco (2015).
Annie Curtis | Ocula | 2022