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Norbert Schwontkowski

Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))

Property from a Private European Collection

Norbert Schwontkowski

Norbert Schwontkowski

Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))

Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))

Norbert Schwontkowski

1949 - 2013

Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))

signed and dated 2006 on the reverse

oil on canvas

180 by 110.3 cm., 70¾ by 43½ in.


Please note the colours in the online catalogue illustration may vary depending on screen settings.



This work is in excellent condition. The canvas is not lined. All surface irregularities are consistent with the artist’s working process and choice of medium. This work has not been examined outside of its frame. There is no restoration apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.

Please note that Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Contemporary Fine Arts Galerie, Berlin

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Susanne Pfeffer, Vertigo, Berlin 2007, illustrated in the catalogue

Hamburg, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Norbert Schwontkowski Blind Man's Faith, January - April 2013, p. 101, illustrated in colour

The composition of the present work is based on a Buddhist religious site at a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan. Two monumental Buddha statues were carved into the rock, the larger one of 55 meters height, depicted in this work, probably dates back to the early 7th century. On February 26, 2001, the leader of the Taliban issued a decree ordering the elimination of all non-Islamic statues and sanctuaries in Afghanistan. This included the destruction of the two giant Buddhas in Bamyan, which represents an historic interference with cultural heritage.

“Rarely have I worked from photography. Maybe a few paintings, which were made from a group of photographs that I took from Afghanistan, but that was because it generated from a political idea I had.”

Norbert Schwonkowski cited in: Phong H. Bui, ‘Art in Conversation. Norbert Schwontkowski with Phong Bui’, Interview, December 2009, online.

Norbert Schwonkowski painted elaborately with a reduced, earthy palette in the classic wet-on-wet technique. Without pronounced contrasts he depicted the Afghan desert with its glooming tones. Painted after a tourist picture, the subject does not seem banal or kitschy, it rather possesses strong reflection and conveys the message of the artists who addressed this major world political matter.