When painters portray dogs they are rarely located at the forefront of the imagery. More often they are placed rearward standing as mere objects in the background. They are meant to distract as little as possible from the painting itself. However, artist Georg Baselitz has taken a different approach in his painting series. At the upcoming Sigmund's Cave exhibit at CFA Berlin, dogs aren't just a banal decoration in the corner of the canvas, but take a central stage and the artist identifies strongly with his animal subjects.
The upcoming exhibition will present a series of paintings created in the winter of 1999 and the spring of 2000, that are distinctively different than Georg Baselitz older dog inspired artworks. The palette is reduced to black and white and the artworks themselves look more like drawings, than oil on canvas paintings. Georg Baselitz's intentional turning of the paintings by 180 degrees, which has been his recognizable concept since 1969, brings to the top all that's been suppressed in the mind of an individual. The compositions are symmetrical and encompass always the same dog, that's standing still as an inexpressive frontal bust. The integration of the large letters written all over the paintings, gives the series an allegoric and distanced character.
The exhibition's title Sigmud's Cave is spelled out above and around every subject, thus alluding to the fact that these are not simple dog portraits but rather codes of a Freudian universe. While looking at his clever, ironical wordplay, present in every painting, you could easily get a feeling that Georg Baselitz has released his inner Duchampian dog. However, his meticulous, multi-layered application of paint and the large format of his artworks proves that the visual is not in any way abandoned for the sake of the conceptual. Similar to Jackson Pollock, Georg Baselitz creates his works on the floor of his studio, leaning back and forth and turning around constantly. The painter has to bend down and crawl on his elbows and knees mush like a dog thus creating what Anselm Wagner called "doggy-style painting" that equates the artist and his subject. The unusual technique leaves marks on his works, and in this series, we can see Georg Baselitz's shoe prints embedded into the artworks indicating the painter's activity, like paw traces showing the path of a dog.
Sigmund's Cave exhibition will open on September 30th and it will be the fourth show of Georg Baselitz works at the CFA gallery. Since the 1990s, the German artist identifies with dogs more and more, and the upcoming show marks the end of his dog series. His paintings can be interpreted from a psychoanalytical angle, as works that emphasize the cynic-materialist aspect: away from the idealistic and vertical, and towards the anal and horizontal dog perspective. While observing these large canvases, viewers should be able to detect various hidden signals and suppressed and repressed thoughts and emotions. Georg Baselitz dogs will inhabit Contemporary Fine Arts gallery in Berlin till December 19th, 2015.
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Featured images : Sigmund's Cave Installation Pictures
Images courtesy of CFA gallery