Schirn Kunsthalle Opens Exhibition of Work by Icelandic Artist Erro

Schirn Kunsthalle presents a solo exhibition of work by Icelandic Artist Erro on view from October 6, 2011 to January 8, 2012.

Erró ranks among the great solitary figures of twentieth-century art. At once pop and baroque, eye-catching and narrative, critical of society and humorous, moral and inscrutable, he has produced an opulent, unmistakable oeuvre refusing all categorization in the course of the past fifty years. Combining pictorial elements from a wide variety of popular sources reproduced in painting, his critical narrative collages unfold eloquent tableaus: reflecting essential social issues such as politics, war, science, art, and sexuality, Erró’s dense visual arrangements seem to be aimed at assembling a comprehensive atlas of images of the modern world. The exhibition at the Schirn will present the artist’s series of landscapes “Scapes” and – for the first time – his entire series of portraits “The Monsters” from 1967/68. Linking the two work groups, selected films by Erró from the 1960s will be screened.

The exhibition “Erró. Portrait and Landscape” is sponsored by Nomura Bank (Deutschland) GmbH. Additional support comes from the project “Fabulous Iceland – Guest of Honor, Frankfurt Book Fair 2011.”

Born Guðmundur Guðmundsson in Ólafsvík in 1932, Erró, who is regarded as one of Iceland’s foremost artists today, grew up on a remote farm in the country’s southwest. Before he turned to contemporary art, he had studied at traditional art academies in Reykjavík and Oslo and learnt the technique of fresco painting and mosaic art in Italy. In 1958, he joined the ranks of the international avant-garde when he settled in Paris. Initially decisively influenced by Surrealism which had come to life again in the postwar French capital, Erró, working in the context of the various forms of New Realism and Pop Art emerging in Europe and in the USA, developed a highly individual kind of critical, ironic collage painting in the mid-sixties by using pictorial elements as spread by the mass media which he reproduced in painting.

Erró has produced thousands of paintings since then, which, mostly in the form of series dedicated to a certain subject, unscrupulously combine fragments from the most different spheres (comics, caricatures, picture postcards, photographs, films, art reproductions, illustrated encyclopedias, catalogues, and magazines of all kinds) to dense, often disturbing visual assemblages. There seems to be no limit to the range of subjects, styles, and genres adopted by the artist. The gamut of his works, which frequently draw on contemporary historical events, spans from the ironic interpretation of Baroque apotheoses (“Baroquisme,” 1965–1968) to representations of Mao Zedong’s journeys through the Western world executed in the manner of Socialist Realism (“Chinese Paintings,” 1974) and political satires on the basis of comics and caricatures arranged to monumental triptychs. Relying on the endlessly repetitive and obsessive realm of images established by the consumer society, Erró has succeeded in creating a special pictorial history of the modern world. Yet, despite all provocations and breaches of taboos in terms of the contents presented, he has remained surprisingly true to certain conventions of traditional painting in his oeuvre. Thus, he has not only established a particular contemporary form of historical painting, but also resuscitated genres such as portrait and landscape painting in an original way. These genres will be presented in the exhibition at the Schirn in the form of a selection of Erró’s sprawling “Scapes” series, an unusual extension of classical landscape painting, and his series of grotesque double portraits titled “The Monsters,” which have not been on display for more than forty years after a gallery show in 1969. – www.schirn.de

Image: Erró
Catalogue
Erró. Portrait and Landscape
Edited by Esther Schlicht and Max Hollein
With a preface by Max Hollein, texts by Esther Schlicht and Wolfgang Ullrich, and a chronology by Danielle Kvaran
German and English edition
128 pages, 68 illustrations and 270 film stills
Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011
ISBN 978-3-7757-3168-3
ca. 24,80 € (Schirn) / ca. 35 € (book trade)
www.hatjecantz.de

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