Sunday, October 6, 2013

Georg Herold

at the Dallas Contemporary
21 SEPTEMBER - 22 DECEMBER 2013                                

Georg Herold
Born 1947 in Jena, Germany.
Currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany.

Georg Herold’s evolving exploration of material has questioned the underpinnings of international contemporary art for nearly four decades. Herold’s career began in the late 1970s when he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Art in Hamburg under the tutelage of Sigmar Polke and Franz Erhard Walther. During his study, he became associated with a group of radical young German artists, including Albert Oehlen, Martin Kippenberger, and Werner Buettner, whose work collectively challenged the meaning, status and value of the ubiquitously exhibited art object, as well as those who view and consume them.

With sardonic wit and a playful sense of irony, Herold masterfully transforms common, raw materials used in basic commercial construction into works full of vitality, dynamism, and contradiction. Herold employs rough, neutral objects such as wooden battens and bricks to create his works. For him the batten, which in Germany is as common and powerful as the 2 x 4 in America, serves as the very foundation of his signature anthropomorphic figures. The material itself creates a spectrum of meaning, from power to vulnerability, from harshness to playfulness. Further, its neutrality allows Herold to best express his unique perspective while simultaneously leaving opportunity for open interpretation.

The finished pieces straddle extremes -- both vivacious and suffering, flawless and imperfect. The seductive sculptures, seemingly unaware of their appearances and seemingly crude but precise interior construction, pose with confidence for an admiring audience. With exaggerated flexibility, the figures aspire to move with broad sweeping gestures, but their immobility holds them firmly in place, reminding us of our own limitations. Simultaneously, the figures suggest an ambiguous struggle with an unknown foe.

In the 1980s, Herold broadened his oeuvre by embracing a material antithetical to the commonplace and unrefined batten: caviar. Despite the exorbitant price of this rare delicacy, Herold began using the small black eggs to create non-representational compositions on canvas. As this aspect of this practice has evolved, Herold has increasingly employed caviar in his paintings by exploring color, form, landscape and portraiture. The eggs, which are preserved on canvas with lacquer, are often individually numbered in a tedious process, both methodical and poetic.               

dallas contemporary
exhibition sponsors: Mark Giambrone, Meg and Daniel Gotvald, Perry Rubenstein Gallery
images courtesy of artist. Georg Herold © 2013.

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