detail of painting at Peter Krauskopf's STRUKTUR at G2 Kunsthalle Leipzig, photo maeshelle west-davies

Peter Krauskopf: STRUKTUR at G2


Peter Krauskopf plays with the tension between control and surprise. Uncontrolled surprise would be chaos. Lack of it would be stagnation.

The canvases are prepared by layering paint of various fluidity. This squeegeed membrane is then pierced. According to Krauskopf, that’s when they are no longer generic. From that moment on, they are a reflection of the world as he sees it.

Detail of painting in Peter Krauskopf’s STRUKTUR at G2 Kunsthalle Leipzig. (Photo: maeshelle west-davies)

The result is a vibrant state of positive flux that leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth. As the onlooker, we also see from our world. The large piece with the pink “kugle” made me long for store-bought birthday cake. It was rare that I had it because it was cheaper to make our own. But nothing could replace the shortening icing at the bakery (no, not marzipan). I indulged in the lushness of the roses and leaves despite their bitter taste. I did so until I felt sick and had to take a break. Often the red would appear in the pink where the food coloring had not quite mixed, just like the red paint has not totally gone pink in the pink “kugle”. I really just wanted to lie in it.

Notice, I said in it and not on it. Though dry, like icing, it feels like you could stick your finger in it and pull back a taste. All the paintings have this feeling of being in a state of impermanence. They don’t feel volatile. They just draw you in to their 3-dimensionality. Really, they are more like sculptures than paintings.

All these happy accidents take place in a very controlled setting.

After dropping off the kids at school, Krauskopf goes to the studio and spends up to 12 hours working. There are usually 3 canvases on the go at various stages of development. Each week he takes buckets of paint to the dump. Some has come off and he is satisfied with the result. Some not, and he starts the process of layering volumes of paint on the canvases again.

Peter Kraukopf, SCHULE B 020317, 120cm x 90cm 2017, Copyright the artist / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Meanwhile, he is aware of his surroundings and in tune with the beauty of things that don’t go as planned, like a glitch while watching a movie on his iPad. He knows this is a moment that won’t be repeated, and a lot of things had to align to make it happen. In his studio, he does all he can to create the environment to allow his paintings to happen.

Krauskopf lives in Berlin now, but was born and raised in Leipzig.

He studied under Arno Rink at HGB. I asked him what Arno Rink thought of his work, since he broke from the tradition of figurative painting. He said Rink had said he didn’t have all the answers. No one does. What’s important is that you keep searching for them.

Peter Krauskopf beside his “kugel” at G2 Kunsthalle.

At HGB, they first taught you the rules and then gave you the freedom to break them. Krauskopf was one of the very few who turned to abstraction. But this is not abstraction for abstraction’s sake. It is a look at our world and the relationship between predictability and instability.

This makes sense because he had grown up in the GDR and started studying in 1989. With the fall of the Wall, things were very unlike what he had grown up to expect. At this time, HGB was also opening up and experimenting with artistic trends that had before been suppressed. There was a media department. There were happenings. People were interacting.

Unlike his contemporary, Neo Rauch, who remains passive, Krauskopf’s work is active. First of all, it’s very physical in its creation. Dragging a squeegee across a 2-meter canvas involves your whole body. When talking about his work, Krauskopf is all in and can barely contain his excitement. He’s like a little kid with a new toy. But, more than that, he wants to share and find out how you see it. Discovery remains the name of the game.

“No order can naturally be imposed upon the flow of paint. Therefore, his applications are underlying and inevitable and immanent perpetual trangression of the rules. With great concentration, the painter nimbly reacts to changing volumes, remaining certain of one aspect: “I am aware that the sum of all the failures occurring on the canvas will always be surprising in the end.’” – Anka Ziefer, curator, G2 Kunsthalle Leipzig

Photo: Daniel Poller, copyright the artist & G2 Kunsthalle Leipzig

In other exciting developments at G2, they have opened the Projektraum. The first exhibition is DER GROßE GEWINN from artist Daniel Poller. This is actually his HGB Master’s defence show, so I’m not sure how long it will be on display. I do know it is worth seeing.

Poller reproduced images of Brunswick Palace from a calendar. The palace was built in 1713. It was rebuilt in 1841, after the first one burned down in 1830. Unfortunately, this second one was severely damaged in the war, and the council created a park in the ruins in 1960.

Fast forward to 2005, the city council removes the ruins, and by 2007 Schloss-Arkaden opens to the public. Yes, a shiny new (old) shopping mall with the western facade being a recreation of the 1713 palace.

After blowing up the calendar images to a grand scale, Poller erases portions by hand. What is lost when history is rewritten? What is gained? What role does history play in our lives? Should historic buildings be restored? Is it enough to rebuild the facade as an entrance to a mall? Is it a poignant comment on today’s society? What once housed Dukes, now houses commerce.

And that’s not all. The gallery has created the G2 Kunsthalle Art Prize to be annually awarded to a HGB postgraduate student. The award consists of €10,000 and studio space for 12 months. The first recipient of the prize is Robert Sieg. Watch this space.

Peter Krauskopf

14 Oct – 21 Jan
G2 Kunsthalle Leipzg

Mon 11am (German) / noon (English) public guided tours*
Tue closed
Wed 3–8pm, “Open Wednesday” (without guided tour, no registration required)
Thu 3pm public guided tour (German)
Fri 3pm public guided tour (German)
Sat 3pm public guided tour (German)
Sun 3pm (German) / 4pm (English) public guided tours

The admission fee is €5 per person, the reduced ticket is available at €3. *No additional charge for the guided tours. Advance registration required for days other than Wednesday.

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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