Adrian Ghenie (b. 1977)
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Adrian Ghenie (b. 1977)

The Blue Rain

Adrian Ghenie (b. 1977)
The Blue Rain
signed and dated 'Ghenie 2009' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
94½ x 74¾in. (240 x 190cm.)
Painted in 2009
Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp.
Haunch of Venison, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Judin (eds.), Adrian Ghenie, Ostfildern-Ruit 2014, p. 149 (illustrated in colour, p. 148).
Antwerp, Tim Van Laere Gallery, Adrian Ghenie, 2009-2010.
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Katharine Arnold
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Lot Essay

Painted in 2009, The Blue Rain is a characteristically atmospheric mise-en-scene that vividly exemplifies Adrian Ghenie’s unique painterly practice. Combining abstract and figurative painting techniques with cinematic drama and psychological tension, Ghenie shrouds familiar figures and scenarios in a dreamlike veil of layered colour and variegated textures. Beneath a brooding sky with dark, billowing clouds, fragments of figures give way to thick striations of paint applied with a palette knife.

Having risen to wide critical acclaim over the past decade, this work dates from a formative year in the young Romanian artist’s career, during which he held his first museum exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest. His works were soon added to major museum collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Ghenie’s artistic vision was swiftly recognised by the international art world, and within the last five years he has been honoured with solo museum shows at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, 2010, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, 2012, and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Malaga, due to open this December.

Ghenie’s work is principally concerned with the disparity between subjective and historical experience, seeking to address ideas of collective and individual memory. Ghenie works by applying paint and scraping it away, layering images from art history, cinema and historical documentary into his compositions. Slowly, visual and cultural layers begin to emerge, creating the hallucinatory sense of a scene half-remembered, half-imagined. Although accomplished in traditional painterly techniques, Ghenie takes much of his inspiration from other visual genres. His early work had been heavily influenced by the nineteenth-century Symbolist painters, yet Ghenie became increasingly fascinated by how the lessons of his artistic forebears could resonate with the modern world, engaging multiple historical and visual registers and drawing upon influences from Francis Bacon to film. ‘In terms of composition, colors, atmosphere, I borrow many things from cinema’, he has said, citing David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock in particular (A. Ghenie, quoted in R. Wolff, ‘Adrian Ghenie The Past is Present-And Never Resolved-In the Romanian Artist’s Absorbing, Ambiguous Canvases’, Art + Auction, March 2013). Further complexity and textural interest are added to the paintings by Ghenie’s use of a palette knife and stencils, which he favours over the paintbrush, as well as encouraging what he calls ‘staged accidents’ – unplanned abrasions, drips and splatters. This adds an element of chance to each work that emphasizes the dark, surreal aura that Ghenie evokes in each painting. In The Blue Rain, Ghenie presents a scene frozen in time, as if captured in a state of fleeting remembrance. It is an image caught in the elusive space between the past and the present, the real and the imaginary.

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