Gallery B: Norbert Schwontkowski “Second Life”
Opening Thursday 29 October 2009 – from 7 pm to 9.30 pm – From 29 October to 23 December 2009
The painting of Norbert Schwontkowski (Bremen,1949) tends to recreate metaphysical atmospheres and landscapes in which time seems to have stopped. With “Second Life”, his second exhibition in the Raucci/Santamaria Gallery, the German artist presents, together with a series of new canvasses, a number of monotype, paintings on paper created as negatives of previous paintings.
A technique that gives, in fact, second life to some of the artist’s dearest subjects: these sheets of paper were in effect placed on wet paintings, so that the profiles and environment would remain imprinted on the sheet. These pages were later completed by further painting or retouching by an osmotic practice. Regardless of the framework used, Schwontkowski is an excellent storyteller: his poetic silence is explicated through an opaque painting in which human presence seems to thin out, leaving room for solitary territories and for descriptions of a world which is hanging in time.
Doughy oils on canvas which – through the use of light and dark colours as brown, black, grey, yellow – reconstruct a dreamlike and leaden dimension. Allusions and references to an imaginary world which still keep a solid connection with reality. The metaphysical attraction of these paintings is not, in fact, quotation or abandonment of reality, but rather it highlights an ironic and disenchanted approach to painting.
The key to understanding the artist’s work lies in this apparent solemnity, which instead hides the invitation to interpret his paintings in an amused and detached way. Behind suspended geographic settings, faces sometimes smiling, sometimes mocking, desolate caves or brief moments of intimacy, lies the mystery of a playful vision of the world. A black humour that, combined with a touch of extravagance, creates a painting which is fascinating but often elusive in its interpretation. Creator of a theatre of the absurd and art director of universes with no focuses, Schwontkowski tries to reconcile, in a modern way, the purely physical and earthly dimension with the spiritual and meditative one.
Norbert Schwontkowski has exhibited at:
Münchner Stadtmuseum, Munich, 2009, D. / KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2008, Berlin, D. – 4. Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst, 2006, Berlin, D. / Altonaer Museum, Hamburg, D. (solo exhibition) / Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2000, D. / Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen, 2000, D. / Stedelijk Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Niederlande, NL. (solo exhibition) / Altonaer Museum in Hamburg, 1997, D. / Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen, D. (solo exhibition) / Kunstverein Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven, 1993, D. (solo exhibition) / Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 1989, D. (solo exhibition) / Kunsthalle, Bremen, 1985, D.