REPORTS – At the moment you can explore the work of the German painter Neo Rauch (1960) in two places in our country. For Kunst op Zondag I visited Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle Die Mitte, Rauch’s second solo exhibition at this art house. In the Drents Museum in Assen I discovered Wegzehr, works on paper by Neo Rauch. Rauch is one of the leading contemporary artists. His roots are in Leipzig, he is one of the driving forces behind the ‘Neue Leipziger Schule’.
Wegzehr, a snack for the road
Like Frits Spits, Neo Rauch has a passion for forgotten words. Wegzehr ‘food for the road’ means a word that is almost no longer used in German. Like many artists, Rauch always has a sketchbook in his pocket. In it, he collects ‘visual food’ that he meets along the way. In his spacious studio in the Spinnerei in Leipzig, he often works on several works at the same time. In Drents Museum you can see the artist at work in the film room.
Neo Rauch: Works on paper
I knew Rauch as the man with the big gesture: big canvases on which he shares his dream world with us in a colorful way. In Assen, the focus is on Rauch’s work on paper. There are a few large works on paper in the Abbey Church, all behind glass because they are fragile. Here, among other things, hangs the name of this exhibition ‘Wegzehr’ (2015). A work on paper measuring two meters by sixty meters, on which four figures stand, one kneeling, the other three facing him. A short man with black curly hair holds out a plate to the kneeling figure. In his right hand he holds a long spoon. The kneeling man raises both arms so that his hands are at ear level. At the bottom right, a woman is seen holding an oblong box in one hand. With her other hand she holds a (snake) tail. The artist invites you to dream up the rest of the story yourself.
Rooms full of drawings
Almost a hundred small works hang on the second floor of the Drents Museum. Numerous lithographs, pencil, pen and ink drawings hang here, giving a more intimate look at the working process of this German master painter. Most of these have never been seen before in our country. In his paintings and drawings you can find traces of his surroundings, Leipzig. Influences of magical, recurring motifs such as factory chimneys and church steeples and comic figures gather in his personal world. Rauch never works according to a preconceived plan. He is guided by his intuition. Wegzehr, is an excellent opportunity to feed your own imagination, and to ponder again on the journey home.
Wegzehr by Neo Rauch in the Drents Museum in Assen can be seen until 26 March 2022. Free entry with your Museumkaart.
The book of the same name is for enthusiasts Neo Rauch – Wegzehr Works on paper €28.50 on sale in the museum shop, online at Waanders Uitgevers or in your own local bookstore.
Now also on display in the Drents Museum: Dying in beauty, the world of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Retrospective exhibition Die Mitte in Zwolle
In addition to the Rauch exhibition in Assen, you can explore the retrospective exhibition Die Mitte in the Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle. Here are his latest paintings (2018-2022), combined with a special selection from his early work, the tondi series from 1993 and 1994. The English word tondi stands for round paintings. Another word for it in ornamental art is de medallion and in architecture we call round panels one tori. In the years 1993-1994, Rauch made a series of tondi in response to a dream that led to a fundamental change in his way of working. Until that night he painted mainly abstract, after the dream he continues figuratively. The curator of Die Mitte is Ralph Keuning, former director of the Fundatie and one of the most expert Rauch experts in our country.
I mainly paint men because I am one myself and I am interested in understanding my inner nature. And one is a man. I prefer to talk through my painting about things that I understand something about
Neo Rauch tijdens interview met Bettina Krause (mei 2022) Verlichting & Romantiek
Neo Rauch is a time traveler
In 2022 we will come face to face in Zwolle with the latest paintings by Neo Rauch. Here he seems to lead back to the Age of Enlightenment (18th century) and Romanticism (19th century). “Here, his figures search for balance, for dreams and art, and they resolutely go into battle with ideologues and troublemakers. Time-travelling Rauch seems to comment on the confusion and decline of the 20th and 21st centuries, within the hopeful wings of the 18th and 19th centuries,” says Keuning.
I don’t have a theme. With me, the viewer has to make an effort to get an answer
Neo Rauch tijdens interview met Bettina Krause (mei 2022)
The curator continues: “In the 1990s, Neo Rauch conquered the art world with his figurative paintings. His paintings then fell outside the scope of contemporary art: they were neither abstract nor conceptual. His penchant for comics, his origins in the GDR and the curious, elusive nature of his stories further reinforce Riddle Rauch.” Rauch is seen in the art world as a great champion of the great return of figuration in the visual arts. With and because of him, Leipzig regained its international reputation as the city of painters. The founders of the Leipzig school, Werner Tübke (1929-2004), Bernard Heisig (1927-2011) and Wolfgang Mattheuer (1927-2004) preceded him, also here in the Fundatie
Comprehensive exhibition catalogue
The exhibition also includes an extensive catalog with many photographs of Rauch’s works. In the interview that Ralph Keuning has with the German art historian Bettina Krause, you get to know Neo Rauch’s thinking a little better. The dream that drastically changed Rauch’s working method is also described in detail by Krause. The catalog is for sale in the museum and your favorite bookstore.
Die Mitte from Neo Rauch s until January 8, 2023 exhibited in the Museum de Fundatie Zwolle. This exhibition can also be visited for free with the Museumskortet.
Now also on display in the Museum de Fundatie: Body by Nieke Koek.
Want to read more about Neo Rauch’s work?
In 2018 he premiered in Zwolle with his retrospective Dromos: a selection of 65 works from the period 1993-2017.
His partner Rosa Loy has also had a solo exhibition in our country. Rosa Loy’s adventure world was exhibited at the Drents Museum in Assen in 2018.
© tekst en foto’s Wilma Lankhorst, foto Wegzehr © uwe Walter Berlijn. © gebruik van de afbeeldingen met toestemming van en met dank aan het Drenst Museum, Museum de Fundatie en Neo Rauch.