André Butzer’s canvases push the conception of painting to the extreme. Through his idiosyncratic and multi-faceted expressionism, Butzer’s work broaches the nostalgia of revolutionary fervour with a contemporary ethos of pop subversion and degeneracy. In this solo exhibition, Patricia Low Contemporary will showcase new works featured this summer at the Ortsmuseum Wolfhalden, Appenzellerland.
Featuring a cast of blobby cartoonish characters, Butzer’s paintings of blonde googly-eyed kinder and mutant historical figures both reconfigure and ridicule defunct emblems of romanticism, power, and ideology. Butzer appropriates these loaded symbols as empty effigies: Ironic vestiges of lost innocence and reverberating trauma, negotiated, fictionalised, and debased through their painterly abjection and abstraction. Butzer’s Germanic ‘opera’ is reconstituted as a masterful crescendo of brutality, insipidness, and darkly humorous ‘profanity’.
Transgression of these lingering constrictions of 20th century context is central to Butzer’s work. Influenced by modernist greats from Munch to Pollock, Butzer draws upon the mythology of ‘artistic genius’.
His canvases stand as critical testaments of macho expressionism, intuitive faculty, unbridled imagination, and taboo; authoring a sophisticated revisionism through which to consider both the possibilities of contemporary painting and the role of the artist.
The power of Butzer’s work lies in the potency of his skill. His canvases embody creative energy in raw and pure form, and aggressively assert their monumentality through vehement mark-making, noxious hues, and highly corporeal surfaces which expand as ‘apocalyptic’ terrains. Butzer’s paintings confound with their eclectic lexicon of gesture, ranging from ‘outsider’ clumsiness, to articulate tenuity, and outrageously exaggerated brush work. His work exudes an unapologetic arrogance in its confidence and authority.
Resonating with a Kippenberger-ish wit, Butzer’s paintings are equally archetypal and symptomatic of cultural anxiety, proffering an anti-heroism from ‘slacker’ values and collapse of genuine belief. Butzer’s work extols painting as a mercenary pursuit, claiming its own utopian hierarchy amidst the debris of recent history and media saturation. His canvases exist as a proposition of absolutes, resolving as neither abstraction nor figuration, but as a possibility for truth and meaning within the performative engagement with painting itself.
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