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ARTES Berlin shows in the group exhibition HALFGODS works by Georg Baselitz, Helge Leiberg, Markus Lüpertz, Edvardas Racevicius and Nikolaos Schizas.

From the Renaissance to the present day, ancient mythology has inspired artists in their work and we encounter it, as it were, in the everyday world. The myths have lost none of their topicality; they are tales of family, power, love, happiness and tragedy, but also humor - all of which are also basic human themes that are reflected in their visualization and interpretation.

The exhibition brings together sculptures, paintings and editions that deal with historical and contemporary images of heroes in very different ways.

Many people are familiar with the painter, sculptor and graphic artist Georg Baselitz, born in 1938, primarily because his motifs are upside down - his unmistakable trademark since the early 1970s. In his search for "the image behind the image," he thus creates a completely new way of seeing. But Baselitz not only turns everything upside down in art; he also likes to take on the role of the troublemaker and provocateur in other ways.

The cycle of works entitled "Heroes" caused a scandal in the mid-1960s; today they are icons of art history. Following a court order, two of his paintings were removed from an exhibition on the grounds of "lewd depictions" and the artist was charged and convicted of causing a public nuisance, but the Federal Court of Justice overturned the verdict. This public debate about artistic freedom gave Baselitz a high profile.

Helge Leiberg, born in Dresden in 1954, studied at the Academy of Fine Arts there. Music runs like a thread through the work of this multimedia artist, who has realized numerous musical projects with A.R. Penck, among others. Leiberg's world of paintings and sculptures consists of sign-like figures, slender, with overlong limbs and expansive gestures. Their dancing gestures reveal pure life: sometimes oblivious, sometimes interacting, they express affection and aversion, struggle and union. His masterful lines and virtuoso depiction of movement characterize his work. Leiberg draws inspiration from the mutual influence of painting, dance and music.

Markus Lüpertz, born in 1941 in Reichenberg in Bohemia, is known as an eccentric painter prince. However, he earns international recognition for his art work. In his extensive oeuvre, figurative and abstract work phases alternate. In the 1960s and 1970s, he produced his "dithyrambic" works, whose stylistic characteristics are above all pathos, theatricality, and classicizing components. Especially in the 1980s Lüpertz paraphrased works by the painter Nicolas Poussin. Again, a new section of work can be discerned in the 1990s. The Bible and sagas now become themes not only in paintings but also in sculpture.

The traditional icon carving of his native Lithuania fascinated the artist Edvardas Racevicius as a child because of the simple language of form and its spiritual aura. At the age of 17, he formed his first sculpture with an axe from a block of wood, which, according to the artist, enchanted him and today inspires his humorously enchanted works. Working both with a chainsaw and by hand, Racevicius' works address the relationship of the human individual to nature, with the wood, which always remains visible, as important to him as his figures themselves.

The protagonist, dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, the recurring figure in his work, seems to literally grow out of the tree trunk. For the most part, the artist refrains from fleshing out the faces and heads and instead shows cubist-like, abstract form formations. As young and contemporary as the paintings of Nikolaos Schizas may seem at first glance, the Greek artist moves in the long tradition of Abstract Expressionism.

In the 1950s, Jackson Pollock revolutionized painting: instead of attaching the canvas to the easel, he laid it directly on the floor. He exchanged the brush for sticks and spatulas and used them to let the paint drip onto the huge picture supports. Schizas moves in this tradition both in form and content. He does not build up a picture in a strictly planned manner, but rather in a spontaneous gesture controlled by the subconscious. This results in strongly flowing, colorful formations that fix the gestural moment on the canvas. Nikolaos Schizas, who lives and works in Barcelona, transfers informal painting into the present.
March 2023