5 August - 22 October 2011
In his first solo show in Scotland, German artist Anton Henning created a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) within Talbot Rice Gallery. Bright painted walls transformed the space providing a backdrop for the exhibition, which brought together furniture, lighting, easel painting, sculpture, window painting and drawing.
Henning’s bold, individual style, fluent in art historical references, challenges notions of ‘good’ taste. His work pays homage to revered Modern artists like Matisse and Picabia while including subject matter, such as ‘chocolate box’ images of birds and sunsets and naked female figures that are often subject to censure. Henning’s approach also draws from the movement of ‘bad painting’ of the late 1970s and 1980s, a movement of artists disregarding restrictive conventions in order to explore alternative possibilities in painting. In Germany this movement had a particularly rebellious attitude with the Neue Wilde (Young Wild Ones) and artists like Martin Kippenberger.
The use of space in this exhibition bypassed the ubiquitous ‘rational’ white cube. The white cube is closely connected to the authority of the Modern Art Critic, a space where art was supposedly separated from everyday life so that disinterested judgements could be passed. In the environments Henning creates, paintings melt into their surroundings and furniture and bright colours suggest a more domestic environment.
Henning is idiosyncratic and moves away from the cold, conceptual boundaries of much contemporary art to embark upon an exploration of what has been described as ‘painterly desire’. In this spirit Henning’s practice hinges on an individualistic lust for life that is compelling and uncomfortable at the same time.
Anton Henning lives and works in Manker, near Berlin.
This article was published on May 7, 2012