Werner Büttner / 1981–1988
Sep 10 – Oct 22, 2022

Selbst bei Ich könnt’ im Bett verfaulen, 1986

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by Werner Büttner from the 1980s, at Goethestraße 2/3 in Berlin.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Werner Büttner became known for his distinctive painterly approach, cultivated at the time under the heading of ‘Bad Painting.’ In Büttner’s work, irony and satire abound. Originally conceived as the antithesis of conventional notions of ‘high’ art, Büttner’s paintings reject attributes of transcendence, elegance, refinement and taste to make subversive and humorous commentaries on society and the condition humaine.

 

Selbst mit Vögelchen, 1986

Selbst in der Kneipe, 1986

Selbst am Strand, 1986

Decke mit Brandlöchern und Rentierschaufel mit Notizen, 1981

Decke mit Brandlöchern und Rentierschaufel mit Notizen, 1981

Funny, self-reflexive, and absurd, Büttner’s work is characterized by an equally poignant integration of language. ‘Büttner’s art oscillates between image and word,’ writes Dr. Alexander Klar, producing ‘painting which is just as committed to language as it is to the iconic image. Both language and picture are dominated by the ambivalent but also by the unspeakable, essentially even by the unpaintable.’1 To Klar, one of the key elements of Büttner’s paintings lies in his depictions of the tragedy and futility found in everyday life.

 

Liebesnest, 1984

Der verrostete Himmel, 1988

Traurige Tropen – Vermessung eines erlegten Krokodils, 1984

Selbst mit gefangenen Gänsen, 1983

Stilleben mit Sessel und Erinnerungsfoto, 1984

The works in this exhibition, painted between 1981 and 1988, reflect traditional genres and themes of art such as landscapes or still lifes. They are often populated with strange objects and operate with anecdotal pictorial metaphors. Several depict animals, which are given as much importance in Büttner’s works as the fate of the human subject, as in Totes Kaninchen, 1981, or Traurige Tropen – Vermessung eines erlegten Krokodils, 1984. In two of the artist’s self-portraits – Selbst mit gefangenen Gänsen, 1983, and Selbst mit Vögelchen, 1986 – Büttner portrays himself wringing the necks of two flapping geese in one, and cradling a small bird in his hands in the other, his head strikingly cropped from the latter image. Representing the alleged self-portraits in which the role of the artist and his social influence are examined, Büttner presents himself not in a heroic, unassailable pose, but rather as a subject of the everyday, whose actions range from grotesque gestures of empowerment to soft and gentle affection.

 

Leergut II, 1986

Rundholz trifft Kantholz, 1982

Frühling – hoch steht er und lange, 1981

Im Weinberg, 1981

Totes Kaninchen, 1981

In keeping with the artist’s deliberate negation, Büttner’s works are captivating in their calculated shabbiness: the picture surfaces remain matte, the palette is predominantly limited to grays and earthy browns, and the recognizable pictorial motifs are executed in spontaneous and intrepid brushstrokes. With this strategic anti-attitude, Büttner pursues the defiant return of an artistic medium that was, by the 1970s and 80s, considered obsolete and outdated. Reviving and revitalizing the painterly form anew, Büttner elevates in his works a thematic examination of the repressed and neglected spaces in everyday life.

 

Werner Büttner / 1981–1988
September 10 – October 22, 2022 / Galerie Max Hetzler
Visit the exhibition page >

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