Friday, November 21, 2014

Neo Rauch at David Zwirner Gallery

Neo Rauch’s exhibition, At the Well, shows dramatic and surrealistic nostalgia through his unique painterly style. Especially, his works remind me of El Greco’s figure paintings and Giorgio de Chirico’s surrealistic landscape paintings. I am interested in his eccentric and fascinating styles to think how his paintings can be linked to styles of two different artists and what his unique style is.
His figures are expressed as the distorted and elongated proportion of body. These characters relate to El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic style. Their facial features look similar as Mannerism’s stylistic paintings. Otherwise, his figures mostly are drawn in half-side or profile and their sizes are various regardless of the perspective. In particular, mystical creatures that are having a partly animal and a partly human form brings me a sense of bizarre atmosphere like a dream; Pan, who is playing rustic music, a woman having crab hands next to a sleeping person, a woman having octopus’s legs, and so on. Its allegoric expression arouses my curiosity about inner narratives.
            His landscape mostly presents pastoral scenery with cottages. An idyllic landscape from the imaginary space brings me to feel surrealistic nostalgia. Giorgio de Chirico’s neoclassical style also can be related to his style in the background expression. Both artists use bold compositions to show dreamscape out of perspectives. Their paintings imply various narrative stories through their complicated composition through combining a bird’s eye view with different angle of views. Also, the effect of light and shadow reveals dramatic expression as a still life or stage setting. Their landscapes have gloomy atmosphere but there are some differences. Giorgio’s sky consists of dark greenish blue without clouds. However, Neo’s sky is covered with heavy clouds based on a grey tone background. He applies not only monochromatic color but also vibrant color from specific parts. His color scheme attracts me to see how he creates the color balance in his picture plane by considering color temperature. For example, Das Horn, 2014 consists of cool bright yellow and deep dark green with warm grey tones in the background.

                                            Neo Rauch, Das Horn (2014)                                                     

El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586)  

Giorgio de Chirico, Mystery and Melancholy of a Street(1914)


  1. This is a great analysis of Neo Rauch’s paintings through a historical lens and I like that you posted the other images for us to look at. You know exactly what you are talking about in terms of painting rules and styles, but I feel like you never really addressed the show At the Well other than in the first sentence. From this review I don’t get a sense that you liked it, disliked it, or thought it was successful. You can probably do this while keeping some or most of your comparison to Giorgio de Chirico and El Greco.

  2. I agree. I think your descriptive analysis of the formal and material aspects of Rauch’s work is very enlightened. The comparisons you made with El Greco and Giorgio de Chirico provided another perspective of the work that I found informative of Rauch’s work. I think this is a great review of techniques that Rauch employs that function to set him apart stylistically from other artists while drawing on artists that pre ceded him for inspiration. Like Grace previously stated, it might be helpful for you to talk a little more about the exhibition, or the kind of emotions the bizarre, dream like scenes evoke.