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Neo Rauch at David Zwirner
Neo Rauch, a 40-year-old painter from Leipzig, is already a well-known figure in the European art scene. While in the past few years his work was seen in several New York group shows, this impressive exhibition of seven large canvases and two works on paper at Zwirner marks his long overdue U.S. solo debut. Rauch has a crisp, clear drawing style, flashy brushwork and a subdued palate which he uses to create haunting images featuring schematic figures ensconced in an improbable universe.
These settings are at once familiar and strange. The painting Takt (Time) centers on what appears to be a piano lesson in progress. A man sits at a blue piano while behind him a standing woman marks the beats with a long stick. An eerie light illuminates the scene, which includes incongruous elements such as a stylized leafless tree in the distance and a colorful hot-air balloon hovering in the pitch black sky.
The compositions seem to be cobbled together from fragments of Soviet textbook illustrations or propaganda posters from the 1950s and '60s, like the kind the artist might have seen in his youth. Most of the images appear to be satirical commentaries on consumerism and misguided aspirations. In Gut Gut, (Good Good) for example, a large male figure bears what looks like a shoulder bag for a lap-top computer and holds a street repairman's riveter. In this piece, as in all of the others on view, Rauch makes a rather ominous statement regarding the future of technology and social development.
"Neo Rauch," Feb. 19-Mar. 18, 2000, at David Zwirner, 43 Greene Street, New York, N.Y. 10013.