From September 20 – October 29, 2016, the Gagosian Gallery (the 522 West 21st Street location) is hosting the Jumping Over My Shadow exhibit. The exhibit will feature monumental sculptures, new paintings, and original drawings by the uncanny artist Georg Baselitz.
Visitors can expect grim portraits of upside-down figures. Even panoramas are overturned. But the inverted nature of the paintings and drawings reflect a past reality—a reality worth examining on a deeper level. Baselitz, known for undermining conventional craft technique, uses his subversion tactics to make spectators contemplate their own past.
“This idea of ‘looking toward the future’ is nonsense. I realized that simply going backwards is better. You stand in the rear of the train—looking at the tracks flying back below—or you stand at the stern of a boat and look back—looking back at what’s gone,” Baselitz stated.
The figures depicted are almost always ambiguous; gender, race, and age are indistinguishable. Instead, emphasis is placed on the significance of people, objects, and places that are overturned. What does it mean to view a familiar entity through an unfamiliar lens?
The reoccurring theme of inversion is reinforced through unexpected color combinations, unusual juxtapositions, and definitive lines that contrast against softer strokes. Though Baselitz is acclaimed for his obscure, abstract paintings, he has introduced sculptures as a way to shed light on his cryptic messages.
The sculptures are grounded in simplicity; plain figures carved from wood. The structures stand upright, in normal positions. One can’t help but think that the structures represent the present, the “now.”
In comparison to the evasive drawings and paintings, the sculptures appear a bit boring, simplistic, and pragmatic. It almost gives one the impression that the sculptures should be upside down, that they would be more interesting if viewed from that perspective. And yet, that’s the genius of Baselitz; his inverted pieces have so captivated our attention that normal portrayals become dull in comparison.