b. 1988, Switzerland

Lenz Geerk Biography

Artist Lenz Geerk's paintings may be sparse, but they are brimming with tension and emotional intensity. Combining European traditions and references, Geerk's artworks create deeply charged, atmospheric scenes free from any specific historical context.

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Early Years

Geerk was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1988. He completed his education at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under the mastership of Siegfried Anzinger and Lucie McKenzie. He currently lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Lenz Geerk Artworks

Working often with acrylic on canvas, Geerk uses traditional Western painting techniques to create captivating, often disquieting compositions. The figures in his paintings evoke human emotion and the psychological, set within a monochromatic background, jarringly divorced from any specificity of time or place. He uses a simplified colour palette to create this sense of atmosphere and emotion in his unsettling canvases.

Connections to Art History

The dreamlike and ambiguous nature of his paintings are reminiscent of modernist artists such as metaphysical painters and the Surrealists. Possible comparisons include Rene Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico, who also used naturalistic painting techniques to create bizarre scenes interrogating the human psyche. He has also been compared to important German artists, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Rudolf Schlichter.

Like these impactful painters, Geerk's practice has proved popular, earning him a place within prestigious collections such as that of the Kunsthaus Zurich. Often suggestive of a strong inspiration from great painters in Western art history, Geerk's painting in this collection, entitled Sculptor with Model and Sculpture II (2020), is a gender-swapped take on Picasso's The Vollard Suite, interrogating the relationship between artist, artwork, and model.

Painting Techniques

Geerk's material of choice is acrylic paint, which dries on wool canvases to create a matte glaze. He then works another layer of paint on top to create contrast, breathing life into his sombre figures. This atypical combination of acrylic and wool produces an effect that lends itself to the subdued atmosphere of the paintings.

The haziness created by the paint application is juxtaposed with the sharp lines and shapes with which he builds his figures against geometric backgrounds. This is especially evident in his Table Portraits (2018) series, in which heads are propped on brightly coloured tables, at such odd angles that the viewer is left to wonder whether these figures are dead or alive.

Insomniac Inspirations

A sense of sleeplessness and anxiety pervades the paintings, influenced by Geerk's own insomnia. Although he takes inspiration from his own emotions and experiences, his references are limited by the fact that he does not paint from models or from photographs. Rather, his figures emerge from an interest in the mundanity of daily life and keen observation of subtle moments, such as passing glances or expressions. Many figures appear trapped with indecision or insecurity, standing hesitantly near doors or doorways.

These characters exist in limbo—neither in reality nor a dream, not living nor dead, coming nor going. In these carefully rendered compositions, Geerk reflects the anxiety and ennui of modernity. They appear as a still in a longer narrative on the human condition.

Exhibitions

Lenz Geerk has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include: Lenz Geerk: Arrival, Roberts Projects, Los Angeles (2022); Sleepless, MAMOTH, London (2020); and CloserCloserCloser, Stadtische Galerie Stapflehus, Kunstverein Weil am Rhein (2015).

Group exhibitions include: Highlights of the Permanent Collection, Kunsthaus Zurich (2022); Ein Zimmer Fur Alfred Flechtheim, Osthaus Museum, Hagen (2015); German Kleinformat, Kunstverein Koelnberg, Cologne (2014); and Und Immer Fehlt Mir Etwas Und Das Qualt, Kunstgruppe Kunstverein Cologne, Cologne (2010).

Website and Instagram

Lenz Geerk's website can be found here.

Articles

Articles on Lenz Geerk have been published in various publications, including Artforum, Artillery, and Contemporary Art Review.

Rachel Kubrick | Ocula | 2022

Lenz Geerk
featured artworks

Letter to No One V by Lenz Geerk contemporary artwork painting
Lenz Geerk Letter to No One V, 2022 Acrylic on canvas
100 x 155 cm
Roberts Projects Request Price & Availability
Moon Couple by Lenz Geerk contemporary artwork painting
Lenz Geerk Moon Couple, 2021 Acrylic on canvas
160 x 120 cm
Roberts Projects Request Price & Availability
House on Fire by Lenz Geerk contemporary artwork painting
Lenz Geerk House on Fire, 2021 Acrylic on canvas
150 x 110 cm
Roberts Projects Request Price & Availability
Intrusive Thought by Lenz Geerk contemporary artwork painting
Lenz Geerk Intrusive Thought, 2020 Acrylic on canvas
120 x 90 cm
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