Werner Büttner

Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Zdenek Felix had long since presented Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger at the Deichtorhallen. To close his directorship, Felix invited Werner Büttner to mount a comprehensive retrospective and complete this “Friends’ Trilogy” in Hamburg. No art-school product, Büttner came to painting at Oehlen’s suggestion. Or better, he was provoked into painting, a medium that did not enjoy high standing in their eyes, being too burdened with ideas like sublimity and truth. But painting, as we well know, can also be summoned onto the canvas by destructive desires and the revaluing of values. Büttner’s images, which run against the grain of the “good brushstroke,” attest to an obsessive desire for erasure, an impulse to subject redemptive ideologies to a painterly torture. Büttner has always cultivated a kind of iconography of the miserable and pathetic.

Not infrequently, artists have started

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