Frank Auerbach

British Pavilion, Biennale

Frank Auerbach’s 24 oil paintings and 8 drawings on display in the British Pavilion were done between 1977 and 1985. Their repetition of the same subjects and a coherent pictorial form testifies to the tenacity with which the artist has developed his formal language. The theme of the human figure is brought to the limits of representability, while Auerbach’s method of working is brought to the limits of obsession.

The faces and busts portrayed appear deformed in a superficially expressionistic manner. What actually lends some validity to this construction of form is an untamed pictorial practice that constructs while it cancels, that accumulates color, then scrapes it away Concessions to reality do not seem to concern Auerbach, only a desire to stratify portions of dense material that in themselves contain no possibility of anatomical representation. The result is a broken, fragmented,

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