- Neo Rauch
- Gut Gut
- signed and dated 99
- oil on canvas
Private Collection, San Francisco
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Leipzig, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst; Munich, Haus der Kunst; and Zurich, Kunsthalle Zürich, Neo Rauch. Randgebiet, December 2000 - August 2001, p. 11, illustrated in colour; and p. 139, illustrated
Although the spectre of his East German childhood is consistently present in this painting, Rauch does not present historical facts or clear cut narratives. Rather, he uses the genre of painting to process these experiences, creating ambiguous scenes that deny easy recourse to established meaning. As Robert Hobbs has observed of Rauch’s work: “Neither surreal or hyper-real, this art is remarkable for its interplays of types and conventions as well as its ricocheting references that circulate both inside and outside it to discern the confounding and questionable role that the many layers of the past can potentially play in the creation of the present and the future” (Robert Hobbs, ‘Neo Rauch’s Purposive Ambiguities’ in: Exh. Cat., Malaga, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Neo Rauch, 2005, p. 83).
A kind of retro-technology features prominently in Gut Gut, alluding to a future that is recognisably already in the past. The man in the foreground carries a heavy briefcase, tool kit, or container for technological equipment. He rests his right hand on a sort of pneumatic drill that we see another figure using in the distance. Recalling the sequential scenes of comic strips, the background figures would normally aid in completing a narrative; here, however, this clone-like motif adds to the confusion and bestows a resounding sense of déjà vu. The atmospheric tension inherent in Gut Gut epitomises the effect of observation that Rauch aims for in his work, which he elaborates in the following statement “Perception via the corner of the eye is actually, in its poetic substance, like a dream. Everyone has experienced it. You perceive something in your peripheral vision, turn towards it, and it is gone” (Neo Rauch in conversation with Klaus Werner, in: Exh. Cat., Leipzig, Galerie Eigen + Art (and travelling), Manöver, 1997, p. 16). Gut Gut is a compelling example of Neo Rauch's facture, as engaging and beguiling in aesthetic, as it is powerful and contemplative in mood.