In this latest series of pictures the artist returns to a principle from his early work, taking motifs from the history of art, especially Paul Cezanne's variations of Mont Sainte Victoire.
In Axel Kasseböhmer’s latest series of pictures he returns to a principle from his
early work, taking motifs from the history of art. Having begun his artistic career
in the late 1970s by selecting, isolating and reinterpreting subjects taken mainly
from Renaissance works – think pillars and fabric folds – Kasseböhmer now refers
back to one of the most famous series of paintings in more recent art history, Paul
Cézanne’s variations of Mont Sainte Victoire. Kasseböhmer, who is also a lecturer at
the Kunstakademie in Munich, produced his own series of deckle-edged, oil-based
watercolours in 2007–2008 entitled „Provence und Montagne Sainte Victoire“, based on
Kasseböhmer’s pictures initially appear to represent a disenchantment with Cézanne, who made the mountain glow with his “fanned-out” style of painting, juxtaposing contrasting colours. Kasseböhmer’s works, by contrast, are virtually devoid of colour. While Cézanne’s mountain range seems to be removed from any specific point in time, Kasseböhmer includes a modern road or a house; in other words he does not hide signs of civilisation. His grisaille leaves are reminiscent of a description by the Austrian author Peter Handke, who dedicated an entire book to Cézanne and his representations of Mont Sainte Victoire. Some years afterwards Handke revisited the area and was disillusioned by how rocky and barren the landscape seemed following a serious forest fire. “The sublime Sainte Victoire, the blessed mountain (emanating from light, from colours, from silence) was robbed of its magic by the fire, naked as it were, stripped bare to its last layer of colour.”
Yet it is precisely this “bare” landscape which Kasseböhmer succeeds in seeing anew and manages to communicate to the viewer. He discovers numerous structures in the karstic rock, creating an autonomous world simply by using highly differentiated modulations of light and dark. Cézanne’s visual world was once equally autonomous. Kasseböhmer’s capacity for variation is astonishing, as is indeed the case for his entire oeuvre. This becomes particularly clear from the way he handles materials. He is such a virtuoso of what is appropriate that it is always possible to perceive the specific essence of painting in his works – and explain why it cannot be replaced with another medium. The latter point is also pertinent to this series, as Kasseböhmer once commented in an interview, “A good painter does not differ from a bad one by taking a subject matter which is more intelligent, more exotic or otherwise extreme. The difference lies in which material he is capable of dealing with and how this is achieved.”
Works by Axel Kasseböhmer (born in 1952) can be found in many significant private and public art collections, such as MoMA in New York, the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He has been a professor at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Munich since 1995.
Text by Professor Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, Professor of Aesthetics and Media Theory.
Opening: Thursday, 29 May, 7-9 pm
Monika Spruth Philomene Magers
Schellingstrasse 48 - Munich