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Neo Rauch (b. 1960)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Neo Rauch (b. 1960)

Falle

Details
Neo Rauch (b. 1960)
Falle
oil on paper
101 5/8 x 77¼in. (258.6 x 198.6cm.)
Executed in 2001
Provenance
Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001.
Exhibited
Maastricht, Bonnefantenmuseum, Neo Rauch: The Vincent van Gogh Bi-annual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe, 2002, p. 134 (illustrated in colour, p. 125).
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.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

'Having set the fundamentals, the stage, I introduce the actors on the stage. Then it happens - when I set the inhabitants into a relation, I am not able to plan. In between the figures, and in between the figures and me, subtle relations start to be created. A microclimate comes into being'
(N. Rauch, quoted in A. Lubov 'The New Leipzig School', Neo Rauch: para, exh. cat., New York, 2007, p. 69).


'The most important quality features in painting for me are peculiarity, suggestiveness and timelessness'
(N. Rauch, quoted in Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen: Paintings 1993-2006, exh. cat., Wolfsburg, 2006, p. 166).


Towering above us, Falle (Trap) engulfs the viewer in a curiously evocative dreamscape of Neo Rauch's imagining. Painted in 2001, Falle was created at a pivotal point in the artist's career, coinciding with the artist's exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. A vast insight into the mind and imagination of one of the most important painters active in Germany today, Falle combines various elements to create a strange oneiric allegory, showing a world overrun by a creature which the man in the foreground- recognisable as the artist himself- is attempting to lure into captivity. Depicted as a robust 1950s archetype, the self-portrait forms part of a larger visual narrative portraying the alienation of the model citizen. Set against an illusory anachronistic backdrop, the expanse of saffron water stretches into the distance towards the idyllic futuristic landscape, capped with a swirling sky of asphalt tentacles. Painted on a monumental scale, the viewer is offered a view into the collapsing utopia, set apart from the scene by a banister, further distancing us from the dreamscape.

The title, translated as 'trap', evokes a myriad of interpretations, arguably a cautionary message of the trappings of society or the alienation that comes with industrialism. While the figures share a common plane, absorbed in fruitless toils, their proportions reveal their detachment from each other. The female figure appears frozen mid gait, her running shoe cemented to the ground. The man in the background appears to be futilely punting from his stationary point on the pier. The largest figure lures gargantuan shrews into an abstracted palette of pure colour, butterflied like a pried open bear trap waiting to ensnare. The prominent scrawl snaking across the sky from an otherworldly floating meteor appears like an extra-terrestrial scope or vaudeville hook. The text block hanging ominously mid-air spells out the painting's title like a cautionary signal. As the artist has said of his paintings, 'having set the fundamentals, the stage, I introduce the actors on the stage. Then it happens-when I set the inhabitants into a relation, I am not able to plan. In between the figures, and in between the figures and me, subtle relations start to be created. A microclimate comes into being' (N. Rauch, quoted in A. Lubov, 'The New Leipzig School', Neo Rauch: para, exh. cat., New York, 2007, p. 69).

The immaculate Modernist buildings from Rauch's hometown of Leipzig reveal the level of absorption of his personal history into his practice; however, any nostalgia associated with this motif is confounded by his surreal surroundings with floating meteors and unusual foreign animals. The landscape behind is itself an intriguing mélange of the old and the new, the industrial and the domestic. The timeless quality of this dream world offers a deeply personal insight into Rauch's own conflated recollections. Replete with such triggers, the evocative atmosphere absorbs the viewer, embracing us in the chase and in the mystery of the picture as a whole. As the artist himself has stated, 'the most important quality features in painting for me are peculiarity, suggestiveness and timelessness' (N. Rauch, quoted in Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen: Paintings 1993-2006, exh. cat., Wolfsburg, 2006, p. 166).

Rauch bases his pictures on a range of influences and experiences, including his own dreams. Gradually, these motifs will often transform during the process of execution, as he works his way across the canvas, move by move. These paintings emotional and conceptual backdrop have their origins in Rauch's own experience of Germany. Having been raised in East Germany with the persuasive influence of Socialist Realism, he experienced with the end of Communism the strength of the new competing images that flooded the border. Rauch's own unease with the ideologies that have occupied so much of 20th century German history and the impossibility and impracticality of the perfect worlds that they promised is evident in Falle both in the people, presented as joyless automatons locked in a world of ritual, detached from any vital sense of reality, and in the crisp geometry of the distant utopias: an impossible, ungraspable and intangible vision. The people who fall prey to the empty promises of ideologies are echoed in the characters trapped in this picture.

The bright industrial palette of bottle green, canary yellow, and cobalt blue give the impression of an Agitprop poster that the artist might have encountered in his youth gone awry. However the incongruous elements heighten our awareness that it is representation itself that is in question. The varied thickness of the oil paint on the surface emphasises the gestural application, yet all this has been painted in a deliberately limited palette dominated by green, yellow and blue. As has famously been documented, Rauch became the leader of a ground-breaking group of artists, who emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall with a new painterly vocabulary which amalgamated their Communist training in the East with their exposure to the culture of Capitalism. These inclusions, emphatically and even self-consciously painterly, reveal the artist exploring his own vocation upon the picture-surface. As the artist suggests, these elements force us to acknowledge, 'the structure of the painting, and it is certainly possible that the things I do in the way of enriching the surface run counter to the effect of space, or are a hindrance to the telling of the story. In such cases, I still reveal myself as a painter. Ultimately, painting is the most important thing, even if it doesn't seem that way at that moment' (N. Rauch, quoted in K. Werner, 'Conversation between Klaus Werner and Neo Rauch', Neo Rauch: Para, exh. cat., New York, 2007, p. 53).

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