Artist Georg Baselitz featured at newly opened Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul - Korea Times
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Artist Georg Baselitz featured at newly opened Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul

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Installation view of Georg Baselitz's solo exhibition,
Installation view of Georg Baselitz's solo exhibition, "Hotel garni," held at Thaddaeus Ropac in Hannam-dong, Seoul / Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery ― London, Paris, Salzburg, Seoul

By Park Han-sol

Having opened its doors last month in Hannam-dong, Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul is currently hosting an exhibition of the latest paintings and drawings by celebrated German artist Georg Baselitz.

Named "Hotel garni," which refers to a small inn in French, the show features a series of paintings of female figures suspended upside down in an undefined, black void. Although they are inspired by his wife and frequent muse, Elke Baselitz, they are not her portraits; rather, they are abstracted representations of human forms and physicality, in general.

The titles of the pieces provide a hint of where his subjects are supposed to be located: "Einzelzimmer, Einzelbett" (Single Room, Single Bed) and "Do not disturb." The series is his way of making a visual reference to the brothel-inspired scene captured in Picasso's iconic "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (1907) painting.

Baselitz's decision to invert his pieces in 1969 in an attempt to diverge from his earlier, more figurative works and highlight the form itself was a revolutionary one. To this day, he continues to expand new styles and practices ― most recently through what he calls "a transfer method."

He first blackens the piece of canvas on the ground. The artist then brings a second canvas, onto which he paints human figures, and presses the two together while they are still wet. The resulting product is a "transferred" figure, the shapes of which vary depending on the degrees of pressure.

"I do this in a very childlike, rather foolish way; however, I keep in mind how it will be transferred later," the 83-year-old artist said in an interview with the gallery. "This process is quick, and the simpler this model, the greater the prospect that it will succeed."

With this exhibition, Thaddaeus Ropac, which operates in London, Paris and Salzburg, has joined the group of internationally renowned galleries that have noticeably begun expanding their presence in Korea.

Pace Gallery, Barakat Contemporary, Lehmann Maupin, Perrotin and Konig Galerie are among some of the major players that have opened new outposts in Seoul in the last five years.

"There is a burgeoning group of younger collectors who have the financial ability to collect art in Korea," John R. Stomberg, the Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, told The Korea Times during a recent interview. "The economy in Seoul is strong enough so that a significant population can now collect art. And that has always driven the galleries and the art market."

The exhibition, "Hotel garni," runs through Nov. 27 at Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul.


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