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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Ocula Report Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Mar 2019 : Mike Pinnington for Ocula

China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...

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Georg Baselitz

b. 1938, Germany

For over 60 years, Georg Baselitz has tested the boundaries of contemporary art and actively shaped a new identity for postwar German painting. Though primarily credited with reviving German Expressionist painting in the 1970s, he also works in print and sculpture. The most iconic of Baselitz's works are his upside-down paintings, which he began in 1969 and continues making to examine historical and personal themes to the present day.

Born in Nazi Germany in 1938 and raised under the Communist regime of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Baselitz's penchant for controversy began early his career. In the 1950s, he was expelled from his East Berlin art school for 'socio-political immaturity'. After relocating to West Berlin to continue his studies, Baselitz once again invited public scandal during his solo exhibition of 1963 in which two of his paintings were seized by public prosecutors on the grounds of obscenity. One of these paintings, Die große Nacht im Eimer or The Big Night Down the Drain (1962–3) depicts a young boy who was not only holding a phallus but also sporting an Adolf Hitler hairdo. Claims of Nazi references returned in 1980, this time in a wooden sculpture Baselitz that was then showing at the Venice Biennale. Aside from political controversies, the artist has also come under fire for his condescending remarks regarding female artists. Baselitz is not an artist wary of controversies, however, commenting in his 2015 interview with Ocula Magazine that 'I'm not to blame for this attitude of the audience, because ultimately my job is very controversial.' For Baselitz, social backlash is a necessary part of an artist's life.

Perhaps it is his nonchalance towards controversy that has enabled him to constantly confront the boundaries of contemporary art. In 1969 Baselitz began creating his iconic 'upside-down' paintings, in which his subjects—figures, landscapes and symbols—are painted upside down. His upturned subjects distort the viewer's expectation of figurative compositions, instead calling for a closer examination of the surface of the paint. Marred by splatters and layers of paint, Baselitz's paintings emit an expressive and intense quality.

Baselitz's works are known to engage in dialogue with art history and amongst themselves. Of the artists who have impacted him, including Otto Dix, Egon Schiele and Frank Auerbach, the Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning's influence reaches as far back as 1958 when Baselitz saw his works as a young student in West Berlin. In the exhibition Farewell Bill at Gagosian London (13 February–29 March 2014), the artist paid homage to de Kooning's gestural figure and explosive colours through his own monumental paintings that explored the fluidity of forms. Similarly, the paintings Baselitz created for Wir fahren aus (We're off)—an exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey, London (27 April–3 July 2016)—derive inspiration from Dix's The Artist's Parents (1924). Baselitz depicts himself and his wife Elke emaciated, nude and seated in similar positions as Dix's aged parents but upside down. The paintings were also a reinterpretation of his own work, Bedroom (1975), another painting that features the artist and his wife. Submerged in a foggy surface spray, the aged bodies of the couple allude to the notions of mortality, physicality and time. These themes are reflected throughout another series of drawings and sculptures also created for the exhibition. This reflection exemplifies Baselitz's 'remixing' process wherein a motif is reinterpreted repeatedly across different media.

An international reputation has not stalled Baselitz's conviction to challenge the mainstream and thus take risks. This ethos is reflected in his latest works; in 2015, Baselitz presented half-painted paintings that depict either the lower or upper half of a body. These paintings in turn recall Auerbach and Schiele's figural paintings. While similar to the artist's earlier paintings of fragmented bodies, the new paintings utilise a brighter colour palette and lighter brushstrokes. Disrupting the viewer's experience of painting in a way reminiscent of his upside-down paintings, this new body of works expresses Baselitz's concerns over the boundaries of composition and gestural figuration. That same year, the artist also shared his attitudes towards painting with Ocula Magazine: 'To fail is still a problem. There is still the feeling of being in infancy. There is little solidity that supports my work, quite the contrary, I feel I am still in a very fragile state.'

Baselitz has exhibited internationally in countries across Europe, the United States, China and South Korea. Major retrospectives of his work include Georg Baselitz: A Retrospective, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); Baselitz as sculptor, Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011–12); and Georg Baselitz, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995). Baselitz represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1980 and participated in documenta 5 (1972), documenta 6 (1977) and documenta 7 (1982). The artist currently lives and works in Munich, Germany, and Imperia, Italy.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Elke IX by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke IX, 2017 Line engraving and aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.3 x 64.2 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke VIII by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke VIII, 2017 Line engraving and aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.3 x 64.2 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke VII by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke VII, 2017 Line engraving and aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.3 x 65.1 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke VI by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke VI, 2017 Line engraving and aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.2 x 64.3 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke V by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke V, 2017 Line engraving and aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.2 x 64.3 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke IV by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke IV, 2017 Line engraving and aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
84.2 x 64.9 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke III by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke III, 2017 Aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.2 x 64.9 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery
Elke II by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork Georg BaselitzElke II, 2017 Aquatint on Somerset White Satin 300 gsm paper
85.2 x 64.9 cm
Alan Cristea Gallery

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Georg Baselitz, Devotion at Gagosian, New York
Closing Soon
24 January–23 March 2019 Georg Baselitz Devotion Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, A New Spirit Then, A New Spirit Now, 1981-2018 at Almine Rech Gallery, London
Closed
2 October–17 November 2018 Group Exhibition A New Spirit Then, A New Spirit Now, 1981-2018 Almine Rech Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Print Project Space: New Editions at Alan Cristea Gallery, London
Closed
1–22 September 2018 Group Exhibition Print Project Space: New Editions Alan Cristea Gallery, London

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Georg Baselitz Ocula Conversation Georg Baselitz Artist, Germany

'I begin with an idea, but as I work the picture takes over. Then there is the struggle between the idea I preconceived ... and the picture that fights for its own life.'—Georg Baselitz.Struggle, along with the human condition and a smattering of controversy: this is what sits at the heart of work by painter, sculptor and printmaker, Georg...

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In Related Press

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Painting’s Patriarchal Spirit Related Press Painting’s Patriarchal Spirit Hyperallergic : 20 October 2018

LONDON—In 1981, the Royal Academy of Arts in London put on an exhibition of 20th century painting that changed the art world. A New Spirit in Painting was 'a manifesto,' the accompanying catalogue said; it showcased a set of contemporary, mostly European painters, whose work possessed qualities—figurative, narrative, emotional,...

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The Spirit of Painting in an Altered World Related Press The Spirit of Painting in an Altered World Hyperallergic : 12 May 2018

'A faint, beautiful memory' is how curator Norman Rosenthal described A New Spirit Then, A New Spirit Now, 1981-2018, the current show at Almine Rech Gallery on the Upper East Side. What he’s remembering, as spelled out in the exhibition’s title, is the seminal survey, A New Spirit in Painting, which opened, barely, at the Royal Academy of Arts in...

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Art’otel, Berlin, Germany Related Press Art’otel, Berlin, Germany Wallpaper* : 4 December 2016

Over the past decade or so, hoteliers looking to create a USP and stand out from the pack have turned their rooms and public spaces into miniature art galleries. Few, though, have devoted an entire hotel to a single artist. In that regard, the art’otel group stands out for its artist-themed properties.Its freshly renovated 109-room...

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Georg Baselitz review - colossal study of ageing, sex and death Related Press Georg Baselitz review - colossal study of ageing, sex and death The Guardian : 28 April 2016

They are leathered by time. Their skins resemble discarded walnut shells. They might be bodies excavated from a peat bog, millennia old, or yesterday’s fruit peelings given a burial among the coffee grounds. Or perhaps these ancient humans, hanging upside down and side by side, are corpses from Pompeii or victims of a purge.

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