Franz Ackermann's dynamically colourful paintings transpose the chaotic ebb and flow of city life onto canvas. The mercurial shifts in colour and driving architectural forms of his abstracted cityscapes echo the physical, social, economic, political and ethnic upheavals that have characterized urban centres over the past decade.
The extraordinary rash of construction, cultural re-alignment and fluctuating economic fortunes of Ackermann's home base Berlin since the fall of the Wall in 1989 and the subsequent re-unification of Germany, would seem to be the obvious source of his compositions and installations. In fact he derives the content of his work from long experience of city travelling, beginning in Hong Kong immediately after his graduation from art school. Working on a staggering array of projects in many different locations makes Ackermann a more than usually mobile artist. His paintings serve literally as 'mental maps', using a heady combination of visual motifs and forms to convey his impressions of a given city: the street noise, the flashing lights, the putrid smells and anonymous crowds.
This transformation of superficially absorbed 'data' or impressions taken from the environment in which he finds himself derives directly from the tradition of the flâneur, a solitary figure famously conceived in the writings of Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin.
The flâneur silently observes the goings-on of the street from a detached point of view.
Yet Ackermann's impressions are both up-close and long-distance - intimate details are incongrously juxtaposed with apparently aerial views, as with Helicopter. The interconnected vortices that appear in this painting recall Giacomo Balla's Futurist representations of mechanical movement and speed in space. But Ackermann is an artist of his age, and his fascination is with technological, rather than engineering developments, most notably the radical transformation in information exchange afforded by the internet. Ackermann's panoptic vision is of the individual immersed in a dizzying display of changing pictures, works and ideas in a world whose borders are shrinking daily.