2 shows to honor German artist Neo Rauch

LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — It looks like a typical German rural landscape: rolling hills, green lawns, blooming apple trees and silos. Perfect harmony, if it weren't for the disturbing sulfur-yellowish color of the sky, a black beast jumping into the foreground, and a red monster erupting from a field nearby.

The oil painting "Silo" from 2002 is one of 60 works by the contemporary German artist Neo Rauch that go on show in his home city of Leipzig Sunday.

Rauch, 50, is considered the most important artist of his generation in Germany, and he is being honored by two retrospectives at once.

Besides the show at the Museum der bildenden Kuenste in Rauch's eastern German hometown, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich also put together a new exhibit, including another 60 paintings, which opens Tuesday. The two coordinated exhibitions are called "Begleiter," or "Companions," and run through August 15.

Rauch is known for his surrealistic, figurative painting style. The canvases, often three to four meters (yards) tall, radiate an enigmatic atmosphere. They feature socialist architecture, workers who seem to depict, or mock, the ideal of the communist working hero and strangely deformed figures that melt away in a Salvador Dali-like style.

"If one would understand my paintings right away, this would be an accident, this should not happen," Rauch told reporters during a recent tour of the exhibit in Leipzig. "I don't know myself where the paintings are taking me — I'm full of curiosity about it as well."

The shows in Leipzig and Munich both feature works from 1993 to 2010. Some of the paintings in Leipzig were so new that the scent of oil paint still filled the galleries.

Others were on public display for the first time, because they had been sold directly from Rauch's studio to private collectors, mostly in the United States, where the artist is highly popular.

"The magnetic strength of the mysterious — this message seems to attract collectors from around the world," said Hans-Werner Schmidt, the curator and director of the Leipzig museum. "They connect with the mystery and find their answers there."

Rauch was born and raised in communist East Germany by his grandparents because his parents died in a train accident when he was only a few weeks old. He attended the famous Leipzig art academy and became a professor there himself in 2005.

Rauch called the two shows an important artistic milestone in his career and said he was looking into the future with joy, not knowing where it would take him artistically.

"I am painting myself in this world, if not exactly in this time period," Rauch said of his work. "I am waking up the child inside myself because I can't be, I shouldn't be an adult when I'm at my studio."


On the Net: www.neo-rauch-ausstellung.de