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Neo Rauch

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

Neo Rauch’s latest suite of untimely painterly meditations is called “Renegaten,” a word that is similar to the English “renegades” but which also preserves a bit more tenaciously the idea of “reneging” on a promise or commitment. The title aptly expresses a tension in Rauch’s work between a bold iconoclasm that exposes the fallaciousness of figurative painting itself and a broody melancholia that confronts the broken promise of art to represent or transform life, a promise that demands restitution.

By now, Leipzig’s Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst’s prize pupil’s signature style is well known: the exquisite painterly composition of scenes that refuse to cohere in space or time; busy details that open out into echoing voids; recurrent characters or archetypes (the worker, the farmer, the soldier) that seem utterly detached from one another; drab or lurid color applied in a manner ranging

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