Heribert C. Ottersbach, Die Narrenprozession (1-3), 2008-09, acrylic on canvas, each 200 x 185 cm
The subjects of Heribert C. Ottersbach’s paintings are mostly architecture, landscapes, portraits or scenes of demonstrations. At first glance, the architectural subjects appear so commonplace that they prevent any clear identification. Ottersbach drives the formal austerity of the buildings to an extreme in such a way that the distance between the viewer and the painting is ostentatiously challenged. Also the idyll of natural landscapes is significantly altered. Bright glazed lines run through the images like misprints, or thick opaque stripes overlap the former idyll to create new image levels with essentially unnatural structures.
The consistent interference with the image challenges all utopian promises of modernism and pre-modernism. Not only the utopias, but also their alleged failure is the focus of Ottersbach’s work. The ‘sanatorium of modernity’ as Ottersbach says ‘is now closed, the therapists are dead’ and the uncured patients are ‘now all alone again’. This is the starting point of his work, as well as the title of this exhibition.
The images are composed on computers. Ottersbach assembles them from templates, which he takes from the available image stock and then edits. These constructions from fragments of the visual, which always precede a deconstruction, almost inevitably create a transformed perspective of the visible. This can cause not only new perceptions of reality, but also new concepts of it, which ultimately constitutes the social value of art and the importance of painting.
After Otterbach’s first solo exhibition in our Beijing gallery in 2011, outstanding works from 2003 to 2012 have been selected for this exhibition, some of which have never before been shown in galleries. The artist has previously had solo exhibitions at the Folkwang Museum in Essen, in the Kunsthalle Tübingen, in the Altana Kulturstiftung, Bad Homburg, the Institut Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt and at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.
Heribert C. Ottersbach was born in Cologne in 1960. He lives and works in Leipzig and Sörmland (Sweden). He is a professor for painting at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (School of Visual Arts) in Leipzig since 2009.