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ABANDONED PAINTING: THE ART OF JOCHEN KLEIN

What is that lovely thread of

water running through this

soft land?

It is so shy.

It hides under the ground.

Is it a smile from the landscape?

Is it an anonymous gift of

Nature?

Is it an exquisite tear, wrung

from the rocks?

I do not think so: it is the main

sewer.


—Erik Satie1

EVEN THOUGH THE SMALL REPRODUCTIONS of Jochen Klein’s paintings that I saw many years ago, in a catalogue loaned to me by a friend, nestled themselves obstinately in my mind, I am always surprised by these inimitably weird and touching works when I see them in person. They do not age, and to stand in front of them brings back an unmistakable quiver of shrill sweetness. The paintings have such a lightness that it’s easy to miss their significance. But it is in contempt of the artistic taxonomies on which such judgments are founded that Klein’s paintings—exhibited most recently at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich

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