MOUNTAIN CLIMBING WITH RUDOLF STINGEL AT GAGOSIAN, NYC

March 24, 2014  |  art

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The first-ever US showing of landscapes by legendary Italian painter Rudolf Stingel at Gagosian Gallery in NYC featuring massive scale photorealistic reproductions of snowcapped mountains is the perfect homage to the city's winterlong Polar Vortex-induced deep freeze.

For this series, Stingel has sourced vintage black-and-white photographs of his birthplace, Merano, in the Tyrolean Alps, as the starting point for a series of immense landscape paintings measuring up to fifteen feet in width. Every nuance is meticulously recorded, from the steely, snowy peaks that appear in the photographs to the creased and discolored surfaces of the photographs themselves. Although the subject recalls the German Romantic tradition, such detectable influences are simply vehicles for Stingel’s broader concerns with memory and decline. Conflating a subject that is highly autobiographical with a conversely passive process, he has left some of the finished paintings on the studio floor to collect incidental scuffs and debris. In Untitled (2010), the calculated photorealism of the scene is desecrated by white spatters interrupting the panoramic grayscale mountainscape under a silver sky. The monumental scale, the precise replication of the faded photographic grays, and the inadvertent markings imbue the paintings with a cinematic aura that also evokes Luis Trenker’s films of the 1930s that were set in the same mountains. Layering deliberate process, chance, and traces of autobiography, Stingel represents through painting the ineluctable transformation of appearances over time.

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