Berlin-based artist Max Neumann’s artworks to be exhibited at The Harrington Street Arts Centre, Kolkata
The Seagull Foundation for the Arts is set to host an exhibition of Berlin-based artist, Max Neumann's most recent works at The Harrington Street Arts Centre, from February 15 to 25. The exhibition called, Removing The Gaze will feature 80 artworks by Neumann, who is known for capturing human facial expressions in haunting images of the collage he creates out of newspapers and photographs. A book called Poetry and Time, containing several of Neumann’s artworks, and German poet Joachim Sartorius’s poems, will also be launched at the occasion.
Born in Berlin in 1949, Neumann has had at least 150 solo exhibitions till now, but this will be his first exhibition in India. “My work is a life-long working process and variations of the work, centre on the human form and the expressions. In the last couple of years, I have painted and drawn mostly heads of human figures,” says Neumann, the 70-year-old artist.
Each artwork is in shades of black or grey (occasionally with a dash of a bright colour) and plays around with a dark silhouette against a light-coloured background. The eyes and mouths/lips of each of the photographs are cut out of the image, leaving a blank space, in the places where the most personalised and individualised agencies of sight and speech reside.
“First, I find a form and a format, which is the most important part. Then I cut out the photographs from the newspaper and glue it on paper and use hot wax and steam iron on it, to make it transparent; then I use oil paint,” says the artist, revealing his creative process.
But despite the strong impression that his art work creates, its defies interpretation, because it distorts the perception of the reality we are habituated to see. He plays with the form by clearly delineating a border or an outline to the artwork and experiments with image composition, focus, colour and abstraction within the space. And yet he refrains to add any psychologically driven theme, or any 'textual platitudes', though there are subtle hints at the objective anecdotes that can be found in his works.
“It’s like reading poems. The most important thing is the impression or the feeling that becomes associated with the work. The target is not to tell a meaning or a story but to provoke a reaction in the people who gaze at the work,” says Neumann, who has collaborated with other poets and authors, including Cees Noteboom and Laszlo Krasznahorkai.
“If I had to present my meaning, I would write or make films. It’s a different kind of a freedom in visual arts, in painting and drawing,” he adds.
The artist, at present has several projects lined up with Seagull Books, along with an upcoming exhibition in Paris. His artworks will be exhibited in Mumbai, New Delhi and other cities in the country, in the coming days.
(With inputs from Heinz Peter Schwerfel's essay A World Without Reality. Translated by Alexander Booth)
The exhibition Removing The Gaze starts on February 15 at The Harrington Street Arts Centre, Kolkata