Painting as a quest for liberation, as the antithesis of ideology and as an expression of autonomy. These central concepts form the starting point of the works of Erwin Bechtold. Born in Cologne in 1925, the artist ranks among the leading exponents of abstract post-war art in Germany and also Spain, to where he immigrated back in the mid 1950s.
Celebrating his 95th birthday this year, Erwin Bechtold can still be found working in his studio almost every day. To mark the occasion, and in close collaboration with the artist himself, the Museum Küppersmühle is staging a comprehensive retrospective, featuring works from across the past seven decades.
Analogous to an architect, I construct my pictures. Man lies at the heart of my work – and he lives, just like Nature, in contrasts, tensions and disruption. We are existentially embedded within the natural interplay of ordered disorder and disordered order. My pictures constitute an attempt to translate this complex unfathomability into artistic reality. [Erwin Bechtold]
In Ewin Bechtold’s own words, contrasts have been a constant source of fascination for him, and inform every successful image. This manifests itself in the stringent reduction of his palette to black and white, and extends to the deconstruction of geometrical forms. Thus, flowing into his works are the stark contrast between the dazzling southern Mediterranean light and dark shadow, and the inherent tension between geometry and artisanship in the island of Ibiza’s cubic architecture. Work titles such as Discordia describe the system in which Bechtold operates: Order is only there to be disrupted.
The outcome is an oeuvre which commands an enduring fascination by virtue of its artistic rigour, its spatial presence and the vying tension between emotionality and rationality.
A participant of the 1968 documenta, his paintings and graphic works are represented in many important collections and museums around the world, including Fundació Juan Miro (Barcelona), Museo Nacional Reina Sofía (Madrid), the Federal Collection of Contemporary Art, (Bonn), Ludwig Museum (Cologne), Von der Heydt-Museum (Wuppertal), Tate Gallery (London), Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh/USA) or The Graphic Art Collection of the ALBERTINA Museum (Vienna). A number of his works are also contained in the Ströher Collection (Duisburg/Darmstadt).
An exhibition of the Foundation for Art and Culture Bonn, curated by Eva Müller-Remmert.
The project is kindly supprted by Sparkasse Duisburg.
Accompanying the exhibition is a comprehensive catalog with contributions by Nicola Carola Heuwinkel, Eva Müller-Remmert, Christoph Zuschlag and an interview with Erwin Bechtold.
128 p., German-English edition, published by Wienand Verlag, Köln 2020