VICTOR MAN (B. 1974)
VICTOR MAN (B. 1974)
VICTOR MAN (B. 1974)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
VICTOR MAN (B. 1974)

Weltinnenraum (World Within)

VICTOR MAN (B. 1974)
Weltinnenraum (World Within)
oil on canvas
51 3/8 x 39 3/8in. (130.5 x 100.1cm.)
Painted in 2017
Galeria Plan B, Berlin/Cluj.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
D. Geers, ‘Victor Man Revisits the Art Historical Canon’, in frieze, 29 November 2018 (installation view illustrated in colour).
D. Geers, 'VICTOR MAN Gladstone Gallery, New York, USA', in frieze, issue 200, January-February 2019, p. 227.
Victor Man, exh. cat., Berlin, Galerie Neu, 2020, pp. 8 and 32 (illustrated in colour, p. 33).
New York, Gladstone Gallery, Victor Man, Flowering Ego, 2018.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Interim Head of Department

Lot Essay

Weltinnenraum (2018) is an allusive, poetic portrait by Romanian painter Victor Man. A woman faces us with an inscrutable gaze, hands held to her stomach. Variegated, shadowy tones of green tint her skin and the panelled interior behind her. The outline of a fox climbs up a frieze-like tracery to the right. A nebulous silhouette watches over the woman’s shoulder, pierced with cobalt blue like a stained-glass window. Man’s paintings are imbued with spiritual, mythic and literary themes, often echoing the Symbolist and Romantic traditions of the 19th century. The present work stems from a group of works inspired by the first and second of the Duino Elegies, a cycle of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke published in 1923. They are intense, mystical verses concerned with beauty, suffering and salvation. Weltinnenraum, which translates roughly as ‘world within’, was Rilke’s term for an inner realm of feeling: the world as constituted in consciousness. ‘Like Rilke,’ writes David Geers, ‘Man blurs the line between external phenomena and internal impressions, transforming his figures into haunting ciphers’ (D. Geers, ‘Victor Man Revisits the Art Historical Canon’, Frieze, Issue 200, 29 November 2018).

Man works slowly and methodically, modulating his paintings’ rich chromatic moods through fine glazes of pigment. His old-masterly techniques are part of a transhistorical approach, involving densely-orchestrated combinations of images and language, history and fiction, and light and darkness. He overlays different dimensions of memory, by turns evoking specific references and plunging into uncertain territories of half-remembrance and amnesia. Man is not alone in having been inspired by Rilke. Cy Twombly, notably, admired the poet from his student days. He frequently drew upon Rilke’s 1922 Sonnets to Orpheus, and repeated the closing lines of the Duino Elegies across his work in the 1980s. Like Man, Twombly related to Rilke’s interest in language—both visual and verbal—as a way of communicating the evanescence of our being in the world. Rilke wrote of artists as links between past, present and future.

In his Second Elegy, Rilke considers the transient nature of experience and identity. He wonders if part of our essence, when it evaporates away from us, might merge with the being of the Angels, which for him were a symbol of transcendent, superhuman consciousness. ‘Does the cosmic space, / we dissolve into, taste of us then?’, he asks; ‘Do the Angels / really only take back what is theirs, what has streamed out of them, / or is there sometimes, as if by an oversight, something / of our being, as well? Are we as mingled with their / features, as there is vagueness in the faces / of pregnant women? They do not see it in the swirling / return to themselves.’ It is an image that resonates with the present painting. The woman’s pose echoes that of a Renaissance Madonna del Parto, pregnant with the Incarnate Word, and her enigmatic expression speaks of inward meaning. The dreamlike, shapeshifting symbols appear like omens, animating the scene with prophetic mystery.

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