Text by Harald Kunde
Almost singlehandedly, Leipzig school painter Neo Rauch has renewed the possibilities of allegory, politics and surrealism in contemporary painting. His epic canvases, with their disjunct components, resemble collages as much as painting, populated with characters seemingly plucked from momentous historical occasions–protestors, eminent-looking statesmen, soldiers, workers–as well as ordinary people engaged in bizarre, enigmatic actions of no apparent political/historical consequence whatsoever. The protagonists of these works, surrounded by floating symbols, abstract blobs and fragments of buildings and interiors, collide as if in some grand trans-historical continuum in which all eras come together. Realized in loud, garish hues partly informed by the artist’s early exposure to Socialist Realism, Rauch’s enigmatic pictorial narratives never vanish into explanation: “My paintings have something vital about them, like an animal, a living thing,” he says. “You don’t have to understand them, just to feel that this creation, to the greatest possible extent, is at peace with itself.” Following major solo exhibitions in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2007), the Pinakothek in Munich (2010) and the Leipzig Museum of Art (2010), this new major Rauch monograph accompanies an exhibition at Bozar Expo in Brussels, and provides the most up-to-date overview of his accomplishment.