Andreas Schulze – An Aus Laut Leise
24 03 18
03 06 18

Born in Hanover in 1955, Andreas Schulze is one of a generation of painters who, in an era when abstract and conceptual art dominate the discourse as well as the market, provocatively began to produce figurative paintings again. Schulze studied painting from 1976 to 1978 at the Gesamthochschule Kassel (now the University of Kassel) and then transferred to the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (the City of Dusseldorf’s arts academy), where he studied under Dieter Krieg until 1983. In the early 1980s he was part of a group calling itself the Mülheimer Freiheit, one of the groups of artists in Cologne classified under the umbrella of the Neue Wilde, or New Savages. Among others, Walter Dahn and Jiři Georg Dokoupil were also members. During this period Schulze’s painting style shifted away from the early landscapes and paintings of houses that still echoed the gestural painting of his teacher Dieter Krieg, toward a reduced, abstract, and frequently surreal style that has now become characteristic of Schulze’s oeuvre. This means that his works are easily recognized. There is a specific Schulze atmosphere, a kind of comfortable understatement that has taken on various forms with relative stability for more than three decades. His themes, too, also change over time. Schulze cites the origins of abstract and minimalist art. He has explored Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s spherical motif, Josef Albers’s color fields, Frank Stella’s striped paintings, Donald Judd’s boxes, Richard Long’s stones, and Cy Twombly’s gestural scripts. In his paintings, Schulze presents the standard motifs of their art, which have become stereotypes, enlarging and ornamenting them to the point of unfamiliarity. The greatest kicker here is that he also copies them, thus contradicting the propagated end of painting in very simple and striking ways. Thus, for instance, he paints Donald Judd’s boxes in an illusory manner and even commits the sacrilege of putting objects—such as his glasses—on top of them.

It is obvious that Schulze’s painting style is clearly “more tidy” than the style of his contemporaries. He is not interested in “bad painting.” He contrasts the imposing form of the large format and the ambition linked to it with simple, often trivial motifs in unusual contexts, whose forms feed on art, design, and everyday life. His world of images defines itself as a universe of familiar things, and so there is a whole series of paintings of cars. One car per painting, closely hung together, produces a traffic jam. His oeuvre includes stylized landscapes, as well as interiors and still lifes, even though Schulze does not clearly limit his motifs or place them in any kind of hierarchy. His body of work contains extensive series. There are spherical paintings, wave paintings, frame paintings, pea paintings, and paintings of pipes, out of which hiss gases, vapors, or steam. All of these things follow each other sequentially, in non-dramatic changes, without trying to outdo each other. Schulze “cites” visual elements or motifs—not only by ignoring the contexts from whence they are drawn, and the ideas for which they stand, but also by refusing to give them any kind of new meaning. There is no narrative, in the truest sense of the word, in Andreas Schulze’s world of pictures. One senses the somehow cheerful subversion of his own particular kind of aesthetic brew. His works are an argument for stylized form and its victory over content.
Andreas Schulze has been represented in many prominent exhibitions, such as …von hier aus (1984), Deutschemalereizweitausend-drei at the Frankfurt Kunstverein, Wie es ist. Bilder der frühen Achtziger bis heute at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in summer 2007, and Die 80er. Figurative Malerei in der BRD at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt (2015). With its overview of around fifty works of art—ranging from the early paintings from the 1980s to his works from 2018—this monographic exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld will provide an opportunity for audiences to reacquaint themselves with Andreas Schulze’s work, and to re-evaluate it separately from any other groups.