Matthias Weischer | The Vincent Award Room: Matthias Weischer
Gemeente Museum Den Haag | 5.4.–6.7.2014

The Vincent Award Room is a compact space that lends itself to unusual presentations. Over the next few years, it will be used to bring parts of the in-house collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag face to face with works from the Monique Zajfen Collection. The first in this series of presentations will be devoted to Matthias Weischer (b. 1973, Rheine, Germany), who is among the most outstanding representatives of German painting today. Since Weischer will supplement the presentation with works fresh from his studio, the show will give visitors a good impression of recent developments in his painting. It will focus particularly on paintings of interiors.

Matthias Weischer studied from 1995 to 2003 at Leipzig’s celebrated Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst. There he encountered like-minded artists with whom he was to create a stir in the late 1990s under the New Leipzig School (Neue Leipziger Schule) label. The artists considered to belong to this group – including Neo Rauch, David Schnell and Martin Kobe – are conspicuous primarily for the theatrical nature of their paintings and their giant canvases. Weischer’s early works show age-worn interiors and forgotten studios frozen in time. As a viewer, you wonder whether they are real places or products of the artist’s imagination. You long to know the story behind them and associate what you see with your own past or with old photographs. The paintings in the Monique Zajfen Collection are not only good examples of Weischer’s work during the 2006-2007 period, but also constitute a prelude to the second phase in his development.

Following a residency at the Villa Massimo in Rome in 2007, interesting changes occurred in Weischer’s work. He began to paint more freely, intuitively and spontaneously and the paintings became smaller and more poetic. No longer filled with different objects, they now focused on single subjects, such as a tree trunk, a cloth or a skull. The colours he used at this time were reminiscent of Italian frescos. Paneele, a painting from the museum’s own collection, illustrates this development in a particularly interesting way, since it was begun in 2006 but not completed until 2008.

The Gemeentemuseum held an exhibition of Weischer’s work as long ago as 2008 but the forthcoming show throws new light on his oeuvre. Continuing to explore new techniques, Weischer still paints large, semi-ornamental depictions of interiors, parks or gardens but increasingly dares to omit figurative elements (although his art is never completely abstract). In 2011 he also discovered ‘pulp painting’: refined paper pulp coloured in advance and applied to a paper support using big pipettes.  Weischer began to explore it in collaboration with Gangolf Ulbricht (Berlin) and Sue Gosin (New York), sometimes in combination with other techniques such as silkscreen. Pulp painting forces him to work quickly and there is little room for error. This show will include ‘Booth’ (2013), a pulp painting recently acquired by the Gemeentemuseum, and several other works in which he continues to experiment with this technique. Weischer is bringing these straight from his studio.

The Vincent Award & the Monique Zajfen Collection

The Vincent Van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art in Europe (to give it its full title) is the Netherlands’ major biennial prize for European contemporary art. The prize has existed since 2000 and was founded by the Broere Foundation in memory of Monique Zajfen, a beloved friend of the Broere family and former owner of Gallery 121 in Antwerp. The Monique Zajfen Collection is linked to the Vincent Award and consists of works by Vincent Award winners, supplemented by other acquisitions in the contemporary art field. The collection is currently on long-term loan to the Gemeentemuseum.