Frank Nitsche, born in 1964, currently lives and works in Berlin. He was trained at the Dresden Academy, where he became familiar with East German state-approved figuration. By developing a process that mimics media manipulation, Nitsche has arrived at a new definition of the image. His is an industrial gaze that gives rise to compositional innovation in painting today.
Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to present a selection of new paintings by German artist Frank Nitsche. Nitsche has developed a sophisticated visual language to convey the everyday forms of our environment. Overlapping layers of colors and intersecting lines combine to suggest the mutating forms of digital imagery, but in fact Nitsche's concerns are firmly rooted in the painting process.
Nitsche's paintings are inspired by images culled from diverse sources—mass media, design manuals, architectural drawings. He compiles these images in photo albums, organizing them according to their formal attributes. Military equipment is placed alongside food items, an athlete next to airplane wreckage. It is his interpretation of this source material—both organic and technological—that gives rise to his complex forms.
The abstractions are an amalgamation of forms which are the result of a layering technique. Nitsche begins each canvas with specific subject in mind. He paints the initial image, but soon after develops another idea. He reworks the image accordingly, layering form on form. We see the evidence of this journey in the overlapping lines and truncated fields of color. As Nitsche works, geometric shapes and vague patterns arrange themselves on the canvas and morph into discernable objects.
It is possible to interpret Nitsche's work in a multitude of ways. The artist invites the viewer to tease out his own subject, and thus mimic the process by which Nitsche himself arrived at these images. Where one person may see the contour of a cartoon, another finds the shape of a spacecraft. But there is no set narrative here, as evinced by the numeric titles of the paintings. Thus the changeable nature of images is exposed in these elegant and energetic forms.The ambiguous content leads the viewer to focus on the structure of the work. The mutating forms resemble computer-generated images which, appropriately, the viewer must decode. But their digital references do not eclipse the hand of the artist, which is palpable in the heavily drawn lines, and diffuse application of paint. In each line we feel the energy of the human body and its movement, while individual brushstrokes enliven the panels of color. But though the painting process is fully evident, the repeated lines and contrasting fields of color lend the images a sense of speed that belies the time-consuming process.