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Uwe Henneken Biography

Uwe Henneken is a German painter who lives in Berlin. He is known for his lush, seductive palettes and fairy tale imagery rendered in an almost cartoony (but also sometimes Expressionist) style. The flower-strewn oak forests and mountainous landscapes that serve as his Romantic backdrops veer towards psychedelic fantasy, as the boneless but glowing inhabitants—seemingly released from a child's nursery book—act out haunting narratives set in bygone eras.

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Henneken's dramatic sylvan scenarios are set in Germany, their mythic events hinting at spiritual worlds long-vanished. Specific historical painting predecessors are alluded to in the compositions. With his talismanic animal symbolism, gesticulating walking plants and seasonal cosmic timeframes, Henneken revels in pastoral animistic escapism. His works could be interpreted as part of a 'new painting' movement, like that which occurred globally in the early 1980s, but he now embraces the notion of painter as shaman.

Apparently, many of these (mostly high-keyed) decorative paintings were created in a trance—the result of a self-aware performative sensibility that blends delicious paint application with, say, 'artist-shamans' like John Bock or Marcus Coates, but without any ambivalent motivation. Henneken is driven by a passion for ancient religious symbolism, particularly to the symbolism elucidated in James Frazer's classic text of anthropology and myth, The Golden Bough (1890). Henneken's symbolism is mingled with various art historical painting styles, for he restlessly appropriates from many, not sticking with any one genre.

Henneken did his initial art school training (1997–2003) at Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe (under Helmut Dorner) and HBK Berlin (under Dieter Hacker). Of Henneken's two teachers, Hacker in particular is a well-known painter who participated in the famous Zeitgeist exhibition in Berlin in 1982.

Over the last ten years Henneken has had many solo shows in dealer galleries and participated in group displays in art museums—almost all in Europe—usually promoting the notion of other-worldly realms with pastel hues, densely packed symbolism and lots of quotation from legendary works. More recently he also has been surprisingly successful at selling his paintings in auctions, perhaps due to his use of easily grasped subject matter and overtly appealing colour combinations.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2018

Uwe Henneken
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Eye in the Sky (R) by Uwe Henneken contemporary artwork painting
Uwe Henneken Eye in the Sky (R), 2011 Oil on canvas
230 x 180 cm
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