Leo Koenig Inc. is pleased to present the third solo exhibition of new paintings, sculptures and drawings by Norbert Bisky (German, b. 1970). Entitled Stampede, the exhibition is organized around the phenomenon of mass hysteria exhibited when a panicking crowd begins to trample one another. The title draws our attention to general ideas of “herd mentality,” and human and animal dependencies upon impulses and leadership. Bisky view’s the stampede as an apt metaphor for the current state of affairs; the impetus for this show, however, was spurred directly by the recent stampede at Germany’s largest techno rave, the “LOVE PARADE” in 2010, in which 21 people died and 500 others were injured. Bisky’s installation is a reflection on the aftermath of a party that suddenly, and devastatingly, went awry. Amidst the artist’s paintings are strewn structural debris and refuse, along with a plethora of devices, gadgets and safety paraphernalia that after being confronted by a crush of disheveled humanity, appears useless and inert.
Norbert Bisky’s work has steadily evolved from depicting handsome, athletic boys engaged in feats of camaraderie or debauchery, often in utopian settings, to the present works that extend his vocabulary of imagery towards a new visual, thematic and painterly intensity. Bisky’s paintings have grown ever more aggressive and bluntly confrontational, perhaps mirroring an increasingly apoplectic society, slowly becoming unhinged. Previously portraying scenes of dappled light and quixotic calm, his works still somehow conveyed a thinly veiled malevolence, albeit, painted in pastel tones. Here, Bisky’s paintings erupt unfettered, evincing brusque depictions of violence, punctuated by saturated hues.
Bisky often points out that he is dealing with present day dilemmas, both personal and universal, rather than historical concerns. For the artist, as with others, the personal and historical often collide. Bisky was a witness of the Mumbai Terror attacks in 2008, which became a turning point in his artistic practice. For the current exhibition, he invokes the German writer and theorist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) who stated that “aesthetic qualities of a play (an artwork) should activate “Furcht und Mitleid” — fear and compassion – and should transform the beholder into a more compassionate and attentive individual. Bisky has created this body of work as a catharsis, attempting to exorcise his own private uncertainties and nightmares. Indeed, he had attended almost every “LOVE PARADE” from 1994 to 2007 when the rave was held in Berlin. While Bisky may
be dealing with a personal, internal narrative, the communication of a sense of history and its vicissitudes remains an inevitable corresponding tableau.
Norbert Bisky has exhibited extensively at prestigious galleries and institutions internationally. Recent exhibitions include: A Retrospecive, Ten Years of Painting at the Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp, Cully, Switzerland; Norbert Bisky at the Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany; and Live in Your Head, Espace d’exposition de la haute Ecole d’ art et de Design, Geneva, Switzerland. His work is also currently on view in the exhibition I am A Berliner, Curated by Mark Gisbourne at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel. Norbert BIsky lives and works in Berlin.
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