Adrian Ghenie’s paintings have a magical balance between the grotesque and fantastical, coupling the surreal with the familiar. The work harbors an air of tragedy, of brute force and violence. But simultaneously it is comedic and witty, as it’s “Pie Fight” titles suggest.
Adrian’s heavy application of paint feels three-dimensional and more like pictorial constructions than 2D canvas paintings. His style is in the same arena as the intense and vulgar Francis Bacon, coupled with the unruly and colorful Jackson Pollock, yet with a unique grace all his own.
Adrian draws from history but with a distinctive hand of the present. Using sources from books, films and historical archives, he examines the dark side in Western past and the charged moments of last century.
In his “Pie Fight” series, he evokes Nazi history and conceals Adolf Hitler’s signature features, thereby negating his authority and undermining his power. Adrian compounds the Nazi leader’s dethroning from history with the humiliation of a pie fight. These scenes transform historical icons into ambiguous, gross and laughable subjects.
The work is as much figurative as it is abstract, mixing raw materiality with decipherable figures and landscapes. Enormous in size, the viewer is forced to step back from the work to grasp its scope, and by doing so, implicate themselves in both its content and gestural actions as we become the pie-thrower.
Adrian Ghenie is on view at Pace Gallery on 534 West 25th Street New York City through May 4, 2013.
Contributed by Dean Dempsey.