CAC MÁLAGA presents the first solo exhibition in Spain of the Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie (1977, Baia Mare, Romania), one of the most interesting and distinctive painters working today. The exhibition comprises thirty large and small format paintings produced between 2006 and the present.
Since his first exhibition in 2006, Ghenie has been known for his unconventional compositions which explore the complexity of some of the key moments in 20th-century history, in addition to political extremism, philosophical scepticism and scientific research. He is particularly interested in the contradictory ways in which history is remembered and experienced. Shifting between figuration and abstraction in his expressionist, painterly style, Ghenie presents us with his interpretation of history through a continually evolving and experimental artistic practice.
He treats his subjects as archetypes rather than individuals, while his paintings oblige the
viewer to confront the legacy of the past. The result is ambiguous works located between history and imagination, documentation and invention, past and present, the real and the absurd.
“I don’t want to give the viewer everything”, Ghenie says, “but when people look at my work, I want them to think about what they’re looking at and to feel something. I’m not a history
painter, but I am fascinated by what happened in the 20th-century and how it continues to shape today. I don’t feel an obligation to tell this to the world, but for me the 20th-century was a century of humiliation – and trough my painting, I’m still trying to understand this.”
Ghenie’s earliest paintings were small-format works that employed a monochromatic palette
to depict intriguing scenes with considerable delicacy and often in darkly humorous circumstances, although simultaneously involving an element of tragedy. In Turning Blue
(2008) we see the dead Lenin going mouldy, while In the Middle of the Night
(2008) depicts a set of false teeth on a shelf. In recent years the scale of the works has increased and his figurative compositions have become complex, veering towards abstraction and functioning on numerous different levels in order to generate open meanings. Ghenie’s palette has evolved towards brighter tones and more colour. As in his earlier works, he frequently incorporates self-portraits (Self-Portrait No. 4, 2010).