Shadow of a Daydream

Adrian Ghenie – Charles Darwin at the age of 75, 2014

Adrian Ghenie weaves together personal and collective memories and fears to address the traumas of 20th-century European history. Recalling the textural richness of Northern European Renaissance painting, Ghenie depicts figurative imagery in contrasting states of clarity, fluidity, and decay, dripping and pouring paint, scraping surfaces, and deploying strong chiaroscuro. Ghenie is interested in those associated with genocide and mass suffering or revolutionary discoveries, but the main criteria would be, to put it simply, people who were both very influential but at the same time famous for their troubled minds.

“Every painting is abstract, I don’t believe in figurative. As soon as it starts to imitate, to depict something, then a painting is dead. This is the moment when you kill painting.”
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“But when you try to paint a tree, you realize, ‘I cannot paint all the leaves, I cannot paint all the textures.’ So you have to invent a movement of the brush that would suggest, in your mind, a tree. That is, essentially, abstract.”
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“I want a deconstruction of the portrait. In the 20th century, the people who did it really radically were Picasso and Bacon. They took elements of the face and rearranged it. There is no nose, there is no mouth, there is no eye—no sense of anatomy.”

“The portrait,” he continued, “was a landscape, basically.”

Grotesque is often linked with satire and tragicomedy. It is an effective artistic means to convey grief and pain to the audience, and for this has been labeled by Thomas Mann as the “genuine antibourgeois style”. The grotesque has staying power because our life as beings of flesh and blood has not changed, and so long as we have bodies, we can experience body horror. an ugly malformed part of the imagination. The grotesque in modern art was heightened by the real-life horrors of the first world war. It is at the heart of dada and surrealism. 

+ i think Ghenie’s alienated painterly expression is arbitrary, studies of his influences of artists and historical context, reinterpreting the wide amplitude of various states of mind, through the progress of working from a visceral sense, we can immerse in ways that he immerses himself of creating a pure art for art sake in form of the visual journey.

https://www.pacegallery.com/exhibitions/adrian-ghenie

https://www.artnews.com/art-news/artists/every-painting-is-abstract-adrian-ghenie-on-his-recent-work-and-evolving-sense-of-self-7792/

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/how-ghenie-conquered-the-art-market

https://www.widewalls.ch/artists/adrian-ghenie

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/nov/17/shock-horror-grotesque-art-jonathan-payne

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