Critics’ Picks

Peter Stauss, Dutch Master (Menu), 2015, oil on plywood, 87 x 67".

Peter Stauss, Dutch Master (Menu), 2015, oil on plywood, 87 x 67".


Peter Stauss

carlier | gebauer, Berlin
Markgrafenstraße 67
November 7–December 19, 2015

Peter Stauss’s latest exhibition features a recurring figure he calls the Dutch Master, which, with his wide-brimmed hat, may or may not be a reference to Vincent van Gogh. This is less an art-historical gag, though, than a vehicle with which the artist might move through the static formats of painting and sculpture, positing the body as an ever-morphing entity that is reinvented each time it finds itself being depicted. In Dutch Master (Menu) (all works cited, 2015), one of the four large-scale oil paintings on plywood displayed here, parts of the artist-figure’s body have been blasted apart yet retain some functions: His horselike head consumes Coca-Cola nasally through a straw while holding the stub of a joint between his toes. Dutch Master (Dusche) dramatizes the act of painting, referencing the work of another Dutch master along the way—a scrawny, Mondrianesque canvas is inserted on the right-hand side—though the reptilian form the artist’s body takes here is more Francis Bacon meets Marvel Comics.

In addition to those four paintings, the Dutch Master reappears in a series of thirteen small bronze sculptures patinated black. With their sharp points and skinny, phallic forms, they effectively echo the gestures of violent jerking so often found in the paintings; the sort of acceleration that directly precedes a decline. Perhaps a commentary on the rhythm of the world we find ourselves in today.