German painter Franz Ackermann is known for his large, turbulently busy, semi-abstract paintings that focus on themes of splintering postcard architecture, dishevelled amidst concentric psychedelic blobs of oozing colour or angularly stacked slabs. He also makes installations, sculptures, drawings, watercolours, photographs, and massive public murals.Read More
From 1984—1988, Franz Ackermann studied in Munich at the Academy of Fine Arts, and then in Hamburg for three years at the University of Fine Arts. Much travelled, he now lives between Miami and Berlin. His meticulous, tonally controlled canvases, with their spatial disintegration and jumbled perspectives, show his awareness of globalism's link to tourism and waste—and, later on, Covid's disruption of that.
Franz Ackermann's paintings, with complementary palettes, rendered aircrafts, strangely bulging bags, and diagrams and maps, turn tourism into something highly ambiguous: the chance for the individual to check out places and people of wonder, hitherto unknown, but also (in pre-Covid times) to explore creeping wastelands of greed and discarded rubbish. Now with Covid, Franz Ackermann's artworks have become even more obviously raucous sites of woeful catastrophe.
These freewheeling artworks are open to many interpretations. Jubilantly chaotic, but nevertheless controlled, Franz Ackermann's art seems to celebrate the destruction of the Central European lifestyle; the collapse of modernist buildings, caravans, household furniture and accoutrements; and a kaleidoscopic looking out towards Asia, Australia, and South America via the artist's own experience as a tourist. But these other locations are now clearly calamitous destinations too.
Ackermann's use of tone is the key to his avoiding total painting chaos: his darkish, angular compositions contain carefully positioned elements of glowing imagery that give the work focus. Whilst overall the paintings are fragmented, they also have unity. What initially might seem to be shambolic, lurching, and teetering is—after contemplative analysis—actually coherent.
Their immersive scale draws the viewer in, compelling their bodily participation, and reflecting our era's global confusion even more so now than when constructed. Unnervingly prescient, these vibrant images have been packed by history with a fresh energy that encourages re-reading, injecting them with a new, powerful relevancy.
Franz Ackermann's solo exhibitions include The Barn, Meyer Riegger, Berlin (2020); Our Houses, Templon, Brussels (2019); Franz Ackermann: New Work, Templon, Paris (2016); Transit: Again /Always /Forever, Dirimart, Istanbul (2012); Walking South, Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires (2012); New Ads for São Paulo, Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo (2011); Wait, White Cube, London (2010); No Roof But The Sky, neugerriemschneider, Berlin, (2010); Terminal, Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe (2008); Home, home again, White Cube, London, and Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2006); Tourist, Städtische Galerie in Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich (2004); Naherholungsgebiet, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2003); The Waterfall, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago (2002); Seasons in the sun, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2002); Eine Nacht in den Tropen, Kunsthalle Basel (2002); and welt 1... and no one else wanted to play, Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, (2000).
The group shows he has participated in include Paint It Black, Meyer Riegger, Berlin (2021); Cities in Dust, Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, Brazil (2020); small is beautiful: (A)rtschwager to (Z)augg, Mai36 Galerie (2020); Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century, The Frist Art Museum, Nashville (2018); Memory Palace, White Cube, London (2018); Kupferstichkabinett: Between Thought and Action, White Cube, London (2010); All Inclusive: A Tourist World, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2008); Reality Bites — Making Avant-Garde Art in Post-Wall Germany, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis (2007); the 50th Venice Biennale (2003); and Drawing Now: Eight Propositions, Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (2002).
Public commissions include About Sand, Miami Beach Convention Centre (2018), and Sunset, Sunrise (2009), a huge immersive mural at Goldman Sachs, New York.
Collections where Ackermann is represented include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Broad, Los Angeles; and the Kemper Art Collection, St. Louis.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021