RICHARD OELZE: 1900-1980

8 APRIL - 3 JUNE 2017

„I don't want to have to perform and be the centre of attention. I rather seek the role of observer. I have withdrawn into my own world and my paintings are free from the bitter experiences I underwent during the two world wars. I prefer waiting and that's why I paint.“ (Richard Oelze, 1965)
The Michael Werner Kunsthandel is delighted to present for the first time an exhibition of the influential German surrealist Richard Oelze. This exhibition has already been in London and New York and now comes to Cologne. It includes about 50 drawings and paintings created between 1927 and 1978, which provide a comprehensive overview of the artist's oeuvre. Oelze's work bears the hallmark of creative maturity, which is evident in the complex structure that underlies his painting technique in landscapes, mythological themes or abstract compositions. Inspired by Bauhaus in Weimar, Surrealism in Paris as well as works of literature, his mysterious compositions invite the onlooker to discover familiar forms and patterns. The artist worked for long phases of his life in seclusion, a factor that is clearly reflected in his paintings. His masterpiece „Erwartung“ („Expectation“) can be seen in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was painted between 1935 and 1936 and is considered to be a significant artistic premonition of the impending catastrophe.
„Loneliness and social seclusion lay at the heart of Oelze's creative impulse. His entire work is profoundly informed by a powerful sense of introspection – a study into the depths of his inner being.“ (Eberhard Roters, 1980)
Born in Magdeburg in 1900, Richard Oelze studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1921 to 1925. He lived in Dresden, Ascona and Berlin before moving to Paris in 1932. In the following four years he established close contact to the key players in the Surrealist movement including André Breton, Salvador Dali and Max Ernst. After serving as a soldier and his experience as a prisoner of war, he settled first in Worpswede and then moved in 1962 to the seclusion of a farmstead near the town of Hameln, where he lived and worked until his death in 1980. Oelze attained international acclaim  with his contributions to the Surrealist exhibitions in 1936 and 1942 and with his participation in the Documenta in Kassel in 1959 and 1964.