Wolfgang Beltracchi, the painter made famous as the forger of the century, is exhibiting for the first time in Germany. Going by the title of “Freiheit“ (Freedom), new paintings will be on display from 8th May to 23rd October 2015.
The title FREEDOM refers to the current life situation of Wolfgang Beltracchi in which his new paintings were created. In January 2015 Beltracchi was released after a four-year prison sentence. The reason for this was that he signed his paintings in the name of famous artists. His earlier deeds are now part of the past. Those who have served their sentences in a constitutional state have the right to start again and in Beltracchi’s case this means being able to work completely freely in the artistic sense.
The works of Beltracchi have given the discussion about the value of art – what art is – a new impetus. It inspired the literature critic and author Burkhard Müller to make an interesting comparison: “In the wine cellar of art enjoyment, Beltracchi has to a certain extent detached the labels from the bottles and is now forcing everybody considered to be experts and connoisseurs to blind tasting, the same process in which the power of judgement is to be directly and impeccably proven: in future people can no longer base their tastes on the label that provides the information as to where the quality originates from but everybody must state what his or her tastes actually are. Beltracchi prompts art friends to switch from the mode of honouring to observing and experiencing.“
All works by Beltracchi are based on his deep knowledge about the artists with whom he deals. By him researching their art and their lives in connection with the contemporaries, he internalises their works, glides to a certain extent into their artistic intellect. By putting himself in their shoes he experiences and feels paintings. With his special gift and the enormous breadth of variation of his technical skills, the virtuosity in this reproduction of these more felt paintings knows no boundaries. Sometimes he chooses the handwriting and the narrative language of the researched artist, then new connections are created, unimagined links and transfers to the works of past of subsequent artists. The paintings created testify to a multilingualism no longer found this way in artists of today. There are new, own works opening up another view of visual arts for the observer – they offer the observers the opportunity to attempt it themselves and to enter into the realms of possibilities confronting the arts offers.
FREEDOM also means for Beltracchi that today he as an artist is free from the former constraints of having to adhere to the handwriting of the great painters of classical modernism with absolute precision. Beltracchi knows how to let the many different handwritings and techniques of the great artists flow into each other with his creativity and his unique painting skills and in this way to create something new in a completely free way. In so doing he has created his own genre
“What journalists ask me over and over again is what art means to somebody like me. Isn’t it the case that the art term only exists now as a spurious poor imitation of a modern misunderstanding? Eroded by the art industry, it has become a packaging term. It no longer bears up to the check for corruption. The awareness of uniqueness made compulsory to the contemporary artist by the market is unimportant; this obligation is indifferent to creativity. Art in itself is repetitive, it has always quoted itself; nothing about it can therefore be really new. It is as old as the world, new and unique only refers to the moment when it is created. I prefer to speak about paintings. I have always painted like any other child. Growing up in a family in which painting was a part of everyday life, this form of creation has accompanied me throughout my entire life. Breathing, painting, living; this is my existence. Each painting I work on is my past, my present and my connection to the future. Likewise my painting is the connection to all past paintings already created, those currently being created and those waiting to be created. All existing paintings are connected to each other. They originate from works that already exist, refer to each other, constantly interpret and stimulate each other anew. Time does not exist for paintings; they maintain their power in a continuous present. They were created for sighted people; they are to be observed and ideally trigger something in the observers – therefore please look, I would like to invite you to form your own impression.“ (Wolfgang Beltracchi, May 2015)