Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Norbert Bisky was born in Leipzig in 1970. He was still a teenager when Communism collapsed, which meant that his formal art studies in Berlin coincided with the initial euphoria of German reunification. His memories of Socialist Realism and the Young Pioneers were already defunct before his career began.

No one could look at Bisky's candy-colored figurative fantasies without thinking of superstar Neo Rauch, another East German painter who made it big after the fall of the wall. But Rauch is older than Bisky by a decade. This meant that Rauch was educated in the East rather than the West. Rauch's work seems consequently to reflect an old-fashioned European gravitas (I showed many examples here in 2009 and here in 2010) where Bisky's approach to essentially the same nightmarish material is ironic and campy.

Now that Bisky has entered his forties, change seems imminent. The sweet/nasty golden boys have been entirely eliminated from his most recent canvases (below) and the palette has darkened.