Artist: Rudolf Stingel
Gagosian presents an exhibition of new paintings by Rudolf Stingel. This is the gallery’s second solo exhibition of Stingel’s work in Paris, more than a decade after his 2012 exhibition at the same space.
Presented in an immersive installation, these vividly hued paintings offer a new direction for the artist, as this body of work focuses on the juxtaposition of figurative and abstract painting, combining Stingel’s interpretation of imagery from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner with his distinctive approach to abstraction. This is the first gallery exhibition in which Stingel combines his paintings with an intervention in the space, following acclaimed presentations of his work at Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2013–14); Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland (2019); and Bourse de Commerce, Paris (2022–23).
Approaching painting in experimental terms that engage with material, process, image, and concept, Stingel has, over a four-decade career, continually subverted conventions of art making while reimagining their possibilities. In his new series of large-scale canvases, he transforms motifs from Kirchner’s Fränzi vor geschnitztem Stuhl (Fränzi in Front of Carved Chair, 1910). Held in the collection of Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, this is one of Kirchner’s most renowned works, its radically modern approach to figuration and color still powerfully resonant over a century later.
The new series continues the artist’s ongoing engagement with Kirchner’s oeuvre, which Stingel discovered in his late teens while living in the mountains of South Tyrol, close to the Swiss Alps where Kirchner retreated in 1918. For over a decade, Stingel has been revisiting this influence, painting black-and-white self-portrait photographs by the German Expressionist, followed more recently by photorealist interpretations of Kirchner's colorful late landscape paintings.
The current works play off Kirchner’s landmark modernist portrait, recapitulating aspects of its radical composition while integrating elements of his own. In so doing, they introduce new dimensions of abstraction and representation, appropriation and originality to his work. They are composed at a monumental scale, measuring almost four times the size of the original portrait. The subject’s face and dress are represented with a vivid palette of green, red, and blue with tumultuous additions of textured oil paint and gold enamel. Working intuitively, Stingel further develops their surfaces via methods that are unique to his practice, incorporating layered patterns and dynamic, painterly brushwork.
Revisiting the portrait across multiple paintings allows Stingel to reevaluate and develop new directions for his work through the prism of Expressionism. In some of the works, Fränzi, the subject of the painting, and the sculptural chair framing her are partially or fully obscured, though this further emphasizes the assertion of her presence. In others, the scale of the figure expands to overtake the composition, describing her blouse in dense layers of pigment. Each painting transforms Kirchner’s original image through diverse compositional approaches, charging them with a significance that emerges in the light of history and recontextualization in the present.