November 16, 2018 – January 12, 2019

Drawings by Konrad Klapheck

In his images, the painter Konrad Klapheck invents an idiosyncratic universe governed by its own distinct laws. In this world, machines take on human qualities, and the mechanical is charged with emotion. On the other hand, Klapheck lends the figures, which he has increasingly returned to as subjects for his paintings since 1997, supra-individual traits that shift their emotional world from the anecdotal to a fundamental level. Konrad Klapheck’s paintings fascinate through their oscillation between the subjective and the objective; their inventions appear at times more real than reality itself. It took several decades for the artist to allow the public to see his drawings alongside his paintings. In the early years of his work, drawings were seen purely as working material and were mostly subsumed in the process of creating a new painting. They were often destroyed in the process of transferring the motif to the canvas, when he did not apply the drawing directly to the canvas itself and then paint it over in oil paint. In addition to the drawings in question here, which are closely related to the paintings - they usually have the same format as the paintings they belong to - Klapheck also always made preliminary sketches of his ideas and freer drawings like portraits and nudes. It was initially a suggestion from an artist colleague that prompted him to consider the drawings related to the paintings in their own right and keep them.

Konrad Klapheck’s drawings are more than mere studies for his paintings. Apart from their lack of color, they contain more information than the paintings. They illustrate how the painter transposes his motifs out of the world and into art. In the drawings, one can sometimes see the guidelines he uses to develop the paintings’ compositions, whereby the motifs are subordinated to the image’s overall composition, becoming warped and simplified in the process. Klapheck begins each drawing by dividing the sheet with a cross drawn in red colored pencil in order to clearly situate the composition’s essential reference points within the visual field. As with Piet Mondrian, the Dutch master of abstraction, the harmonic compositions in Klapheck’s work also emerge from components that are not interchangeable. Repetitions are avoided as much as possible. Klapheck’s drawings illustrate how a distinctive imagery emerges, and how what may appear as evidence of a disarming naïveté in the paintings, was in fact invented and constructed with the most refined sophistication. These drawings are remarkable because they are documents of an extraordinary interdependence of free composition and meticulous planning. It is also clear in the drawings that Klapheck treats his machines - with which he became an integral part of art history - exactly like the human figures in the erotically charged interiors that he has created since 1997 and the portraits of Jazz greats whom the painter loves so much.

In Konrad Klapheck’s drawings, the viewer can come closer to him than in any of the artist’s other work. The drawings make the artist’s creative process comprehensible and yet remain mysterious. With their peculiar mixture of intuition and precision, they are timeless masterpieces, simple and enigmatic at the same time.

Kay Heymer

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