This exhibition’s title „1 Eis Bitte!“ (1 Ice Please), is taken from one of the paintings of Los Angeles based artist Andre Butzer and can be seen as referencing his first solo show at Galerie Max Hetzler Berlin in 2003 – „Chips und Pepsi und Medizin“ (Chips and Pepsi and Medicine). Whilst both titles are playful in their casual spoken nature, Butzer wryly critiques commodity aesthetics through the allusion to products of mass consumption and branded identities.

At the same time, aware of the contradictions at play, Butzer lures in the viewer through his deliberate use of bright colours and enlivened compositions. This can be seen through his body of work as shown in „Ein Eis Bitte“ tracing the artist’s earlier paintings.

At times using enamel from spray cans and oil paint directly from the tube without first mixing it, Butzer further engages with themes of mass consumption and the ready-made by employing products which are industrially manufactured. Squeezing the paint directly from the tube onto the canvas, without the medium of a brush, creates a physical distance between the hand of the artist and the textured surface of the painting.

An assault on the twentieth-century canon, in particular Pop art, “Science-Fiction-Expressionism” represents for Butzer a means to transform the past into the future in optical terms: “For me, it should be something eternal, like an expressive machine that works and calculates in an irrational manner. An eventful, but calm element between life and death that measures the future. The term science fiction caught my eye, since we do not know what it truly is but the term extends to our present nonetheless.”

Arriving at painting through the cartoons and comics of his youth, Butzer’s artistic influences range far and wide from Asger Jorn, Edvard Munch, Piero della Francesca, Philip Guston and German Expressionism to Walt Disney and Henry Ford – influencers of culture and industry on a mass scale.

Butzer strives to find balance amidst the chaos and contractions. He unites the opposing elements of life and death, horror and beauty, hope and despair to make visible that which cannot be represented in the world. Populated by anarchic and grotesque figures, the artist explores the existential condition through these imaginary creatures.

Moving away from the saturation of many colours and motifs in the early paintings, Untitled, 2011, from Butzer’s “N-Bilder” series, addresses the potential for painting as a means for expression from another extreme. Apparently reduced, but in fact increased to its essentials, the fat expanse of the grey surface provides a unified pictorial plane on which the vertical and horizontal forms compliment each other.

Inspired by a figurative drawing by Luca Signorelli found in Cézanne’s studio of a living vertical body carrying a dead horizontal body, the abstracted forms in Untitled serve as a metaphor for the human condition. Offering a new beginning and fertile new ground, the “N-Bilder” continue Butzer’s exploration of painting and life across time and genres.

Images: Installation view, Andre Butzer – Selected Works from Private Collections, Max Hetzler Gallery, Berlin, March 2018  // André Butzer, 1 Eis, bitte!, 1999. Acrylic on canvas 210 x 150 x 2,8 cm; 82 5/8 x 59 x 1 1/8 in. Photo def image, Berlin

Ein Eis Bitte!
Andre Butzer
Max Hetzler Gallery
Through 08 February 2019