Whether as an investigation of the human form, a meditation on inner states, a reflection on greater cultural or political events, or a means of bridging the gap between high and low art, the abstraction of figures has played an irreplaceable role in the history of art, bringing artistic expression to the forefront from the earliest days. The latitude of the exhibition, including artists from all over Europe and from different eras, all of whom are known for their unconventional approach to painting and sculpture, shows how these themes have manifested themselves in different cultures, periods and styles.
From Paula Modersohn-Becker´s Brustbild eines Mädchens in der Sonne vor weiter Landschaft from 1897 to Frank Auerbach’s oil on canvas David Landau from 2007 to Thomas Schütte´s Old Friend Revisited, n° 15-2, the artworks bear witness to how the human figure has been a recurring point of reflection in the artist’s mind over the years.
Far from Michelangelo’s or Raphael’s perfect depiction of the human body, the artists included achieve an almost mystical dimension by heightening the human body to abstraction, as Georg Baselitz shows in his two works on paper, originally painted vertically and then turned upside down as a form of de-naturalisation of the subject.
While the concept of “figures” refers to the subject depicted, the idea of “gestures” recalls the role of the artist in the creative process who, through the creative gesture of painting, modelling and shaping, gives the works a deep soul that outlasts history. A gesture that often acquires a personal, philosophical and social meaning that is also adapted to a contemporary reading of reality.