Poster of The Extraordinary Visions of Mental Maps Markus Lüpertz in China


By Veit Ziegelmaier

Markus Lüpertz is undoubtedly one of the most internationally renowned German artists of present ages, whose artworks are exhibited and collected in notably museums and collections all over the world. Born in 1941 in Reichenberg, Bohemia (today Liberec, Czech Republic) he started his career in the early 1960s in former West-Berlin as a representative and pioneer of Neo-Expressionism, an intense, rough and emotionally figurative painting style, which was developed by a group of artists as a reaction against the predominating abstract tendencies in art.

After presentations of Lüpertz’s art in China in Shanghai and Beijing this exhibition offers the opportunity to the citizens and visitors of Wuhan to explore his unique and still ongoing artistic career over 5 decades. With 104 exhibited works from the MAP collection, definitely one of the biggest Lüpertz collections worldwide, this show allows a comprehensive survey over his development as an artist from the 1960s until today by presenting different phases of his artistic production and offering insights in his chosen themes and world of thought.

Although Lüpertz created an individual imagery with great memorability he still reinvents himself as an artist over the years, always looking for creating the ultimate artwork and exploring new ways of individual and persuasive expression.

Recurring in his art is the preoccupation with cultural history combined with a critical approach in regard to the contemporary history of Germany in Lüpertz´s  early years as an artist. This interest in historical themes leads to various series dealing with the ancient Greek and Roman mythology as well as religious motifs from Christianity, referring as central subjects in the long tradition art history to the origin of western culture. But Lüpertz also works on his own myth to become a painter and sculptor immortalised by his art.

The Extraordinary Visions of Mental Maps

By Xu Yongmin

We really should be thankful for the sunny space illuminated by the lights at the museum, so that the art of painting could remain as a treasure shared by human beings which signal similar spaces throughout the world. What one has seen and heard could restore the true essence of expression and communication in visual arts rather than second-hand accounts.

Arts exist for what can be seen with the eyes and minds, since the mind of the audience varies, surely what you can see, he can see and I can see are totally different, what I say, what you say and what he says are hard to unify.

Today, we look uponMarkus Lüpertz’s work in this way, as does the work by Zhou Shaohua.

The Renaissance in Europe, and the Chinese landscape painting in Song and Yuan dynasties, both of themare impressive and adorable and they seem to be distant mountains that soar to the sky shoulder to shoulder, but they cannot be superimposed.

The artwork by a German artist that encounters the artwork by a Chinese artist at the Art Museum of Hubei Institute of Fine Arts will be presented here simultaneously, as was expected it will lead to many topics. They vary in ages, experiences, social and cultural backgrounds and they have completely different mediums of visual expression, but they join here with their works. An artist hopes to use his work to form a trusting relationship of co-conspiracy with the audience, to also formulate the eye contact on a cultural level, which should be an optimistic space attributed to what the art museum should have—this is the true intention of this exhibition planner who cherishes this origin.

The relationship between artistic expression and social existence, as presented by artworks, depends entirely on the fact that the audience has their right to choose their cultural intuitions and visual preferences, they comment while they watch—that’s the expected intention of putting these two exhibitions together.

I have read many reviews on these two artists, and I have benefited a lot from this. Confronted with the works, at the moment, I would like to turn to, taking the liberty to ask you, to appreciate these works, and leave some time to carefully read their respective chronology.

Age expresses whether one has a rich experience. Both of these two artists have gone abroad since they were in their own juvenile period and they have experienced the most brutal war in the history of human development which has changed the historical process. Tremendous social changes have taken place in the East and the West. Regardless of social forms, people began to desire the unveiling of more unknown human mysteries in recognition, including their aspiration for monumental expression in all art forms including visual images.

The blank space formulated by the culturally and visually psychological expectations, provides the artist with outlets of rational thinking and emotional outbursts.“There are too many furry things in this world, you shall not shoot about them any more.” A survivor of concentration camp had painstakingly warned a renowned director who had hesitated. Eventually the completed film was heart shaking and piercing.

After the war, the complementary relationship formed by the profundity of the spiritual culture of human beings and cultural features in various regions has become increasingly apparent. Both of these artists have never given up their visual experience which has been formed by what they have gone through, in their own works, they exquisitely grasp the control of changing aesthetic standards of all ages.

Epochal changes occur during great times, thus artists are trying to imagine and eagerly find what is the contemporary spirit in artworks. At this time, these two artists from the East and the West, with their distinctive artistic language and thinking make breakthroughs, drastically practicing their own artistic expression, they carefully protect and maintain the bottom line of classical culture. Drawing the attention of the audience to the splendor that visual culture should have, with the macroscopic presentation, they try to transplant the classic culture from the past tense to the present tense.

The artist reflects his consistently rational thinking in his work, which is not always linear. There are imprints of continually mutual influences as well as vigorous figures suddenly emerging. It is precisely the downward spiral of the deepening artistic view, and variation according to the themes of artworks at various stages, responding and challenging the propositions of visual art put forward by the ages. Once the connotation of artworks have been expanded, in turn, it will drive the artist to reflect on the potential diversity of social demands and it can be called bliss that comes out of the depth of misfortune. In this way, it is not too much to say that artists create artworks, but that artworks review artists.

Retrospectives on history, love of Nature, longing for life, and wishes for dialogue with all manifestations of history and all living things in the world, inspire these two artists to steadily build their own beliefs with their prolific work. Their individual experience has been cast into the unnerving determination, and the dismissive attitude when they were confronted with disputes.

When the unhinged passion was produced elaborately, when elaborate creations can also cover the mediocre which is overwhelming, the so-called maintenanceof traditions, almost costs more of an explanation, this has already become a weapon to attack others. Aesthetics, what on earth they are, I am afraid this is so far the most difficult issue to reach a consensus on among everyone. Each artwork you create, each sentence you speak, will always be “sworn evidence” confronted with endless interrogations, only to find who has the last laugh. This is exactly the endless charm of art history exuding from pages that get thicker.

“Comprehensively enjoying the view of previous miracles, while embracing the visions of heaven and earth” (Words by Zhou Shaohua). We are fortunate to understand that artworks from these two artists from the East and West have contributed to a fresh visual reflection for the audience to perceive. Even if you have felt confused in classifying it in the textbooks of art history. Like an experienced reader, although he just glances at the book, he can get the information from the rhetoric grammar he’s familiar with, his experience tells us what a glance means to him. However, when you see the same media and symbols but the arrangement decomposes the original structure which seems difficult to be identified, you could not help looking around to find whether there is similar bewilderment.

How to view this, how could it become the common issue within the context of contemporary visual and cultural contexts?

Viewing, surely should be connected with questioning. At this point, we shall have the enthusiasm we never experienced when looking at the artworks, with the same interest, to carefully read the chronology of these two artists, we will find that their respective backgrounds, life experiences, interests and even their hobbies are fermented and activated by memories and they become the visual enthusiasm that they have never experienced, with the coinciding expressive means that are truthfully on their own mental maps. They persistently ask for the visual vitality and spiritual support from history and Nature, and they personalized the energy of Nature and the Universe, sublimating them to be intuitive images beyond vision, directing towards the history, the sky, and the unknown.

Although all the art icons can be found with corresponding patterns in classics, but when we are confronted with such artists, such works, do not ignore the reflection left on our retina but we have not noticed. We should not be accustomed to the existing perspective, or expect to watch the atmosphere that we have not seen, not to mention the natural four seasons’ weather that is rich in colorful presentations. Only if we suppose that we witness the clouds, can we see the visual landscape that triggers the mental shock.

If we are able to observe by more means, we would find society and Nature convey richer mental reflection of the artist in the work. Is this not the visual demands of epochal cultural images?

To comprehend the artist better is more meaningful than judging his work. At least, a reckless and self-righteous conclusion will be avoided. Both of the artists appreciate each other’s art classics and the spirit of the times is derived from their works. They have experienced hardships endowed by the epoch but in turn they have been given an outstanding identity by the epoch.The former is an indispensable equipment for an ambitious artist on his trip through life, and the latter examines whether the artist can discerningly and fearlessly place himself and his work persistently with new thinking and new experimental ways at the position faced with a judgement while also giving a comprehensive presentation of his cultural mission using social behaviors and individual artistic talent in his work. The mental maps they depicted will lead the audience to check their pulses.

Chinese culture and German culture respectively has a different rational direction, and both retain the humanistic enlightenment of the “Axial Age.” We can see that Mr. Lüpertzand Mr. Zhou Shaohua have poetically portrayed work with their retrospective sincerity and with metaphors they accurately give the impression that the emotions should push forward to the frontier of the visual culture.

They have been very clear that the reckless passion cannot be completely reproduced in their works. She is both real and illusionary, is both the reality and the dream, from the artist’s mind, but also from the hearts of the audience.

“My painting is my second life.”(Words by Zhou Shaohua)

“Painting has a history of 5,000 years, every time you create you have to confront with this long history. And each painting refuses to become a painting, so that you need to carefully ponder in front ofthe canvas, thinking about the combination of remote history and an individual unique quality, to show the “ego” is bold enough…all my unhappiness, aggression are kept in my studio…sometimes I would not give up until I was exhausted.” (Words by Markus Lüpertz)

I would like to put these statements together with the works on the same wall, However, the art museum has limited space for this display, I would like to end this article withthese authentic confession full of vitality.

August 7th, 2017

Beginning of Autumn in the Year of Ding You

About the exhibition

Dates: 12th September – 10th October, 2017

Venue: The Art Museum of Hubei Institute of Fine Arts

Courtesy of the artist and the Art Museum of Hubei Institute of Fine Arts.

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