The combination of familiar motives with unconventional contrasts is an effective strategy, especially when addressing German symbolism. Created in Germany for his first solo exhibition in this country, these works confuse, amaze, and force us to question. Galerie Michael Haas in Berlin exhibits new works by the British artist (born in 1966) Wolfe von Lenkiewcz.
In his 20 most recent oil on canvas paintings, the artist focuses on Germany’s past and its impact up to the present; a very personal theme when considering his own German-Jewish ancestry. Familiar yet contradictory visual content is placed together in an unusual context, and as a consequence they offer the viewer a completely new and complex reading of the subject.
Symbols and individuals that have a relationship with National Socialism are incorporated in the familiar repertoire of art history. One sees a portrait of Richard Wagner in the style of Arcimboldo, a Teutonic cross in a Klee painting, or a towering Neuschwanstein Castle on Böcklin’s “Isle of the Dead” in front of which an imperial eagle rests on top of a wreath and swastika. A favourable view of the regime? Hardly!
Lenkiewicz merely demonstrates the inflexibility that society exhibits regarding specific subject matter. Based upon Derrida’s Différance theory the artist proves that an object constantly exists in relation to something else, and is thus in a constant state of change. Nothing remains unchanged; no image is copyright or immune from Lenkiewicz’s creativity.
His work does not represent a political agenda, nor should they be interpreted as admonitory or satirical. A break with the status quo and a reevaluation of one’s point of view are the artist’s concerns.