Nottingham Contemporary presents Alfred Kubin The Other Side

Nottingham Contemporary presents Alfred Kubin The Other Side, on view 21 July–30 September 2012.

Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) was a late symbolist whose work also anticipated the dreamworlds of Surrealism. His beautifully executed drawings remain some of the most disturbing images of the early 1900s. This is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to this extraordinary work for many decades and follows important recent reappraisals of his art at Neue Galerie in New York and Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

His haunting drawings of violent death, psychic trauma, and bizarre creatures anticipated both the horrors of the First World War and the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. In a few short years he produced hundreds of black-and-white drawings that explored his desires, neuroses, and nightmares.

The strange and often violent nature of his work, executed in a distinctive and delicate ink wash technique, is also drawn from his own life experience. He never recovered from a deeply troubled childhood, losing his mother at a young age. He was, he said, seduced by a pregnant woman shortly afterwards. Following a failed suicide attempt at the age of 19, and a complete nervous breakdown at 20, Kubin was sent to Munich to study at the art academy. There he discovered the work of artists like Goya, Klinger, Munch, Ensor, and Redon, which ignited a period of fervent creativity between the years 1898 and 1906, the period covered by this exhibition.

He also found critical and commercial success. His work was admired by artists like Paul Klee and Franz Marc who invited him to join the influential Blaue Reiter group. In 1909 Kubin wrote the disturbing and fantastical novel The Other Side, the portrayal of a dystopian dream realm, which was cited as a key influence by Franz Kafka for his novel The Castle. His work looks shockingly contemporary to this day.

A colour publication accompanies the exhibition with a specially commissioned fictional essay by the author Ali Smith.

Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross
Nottingham NG1 2GB

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