Friday, June 04, 2004

The World Upside Down: Georg Baselitz

Sometimes art has the ability to stun and shock. It does not happen often, but when it does, the impact is great.
In the Kunsthalle in Bonn there is an exhibition at the moment titled Bilder, die den Kopf verdrehen, (Paintings, that make your head turn), showing stunning paintings (and sculpture) by Georg Baselitz. The paintings were stunning to me, not so much by how they were painted, but by the way Baselitz presents his images to the viewer.
Most of the pictures in the exhibition are upside down. A simple trick. And so brilliant! Such a stroke of genius!
For by that simple act Baselitz confuses and confronts us. Innocently, carelessly, the visitor walks into the room, carrying his set of values comfortably, and then Baselitz has turned the world upside down.
The viewer is forced to react. He can do all sorts of things: he can hang his head down to make the image on the canvas familiar again; he can try to find new images in the painting as it is; he can start wondering which is the right way up: his or Baselitz’s.
There is one thing the viewer cannot do: consume comfortably. He múst do something, whatever it is.
What the visitor sees is not what the painter saw. That is what came home to me with such a bang. We have all become so smug in our view of the world, we are all so convinced of what we see.
Baselitz mocks that smugness very seriously. In the same way that Martin Amis has done with his novel Time’s Arrow, in which he has written the story of a Nazi criminal backwards. He, too, had turned the world upside down: destruction became creation, and right became wrong.

We need to be shaken vigorously from time to time. It clears the head. It makes us realize again, that things are not what they seem.
foto von gestern clown popup the gleaner

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