Christopher Lehmpfuhl

Between Pathos and Pastose
Christopher Lehmpfuhl in the Würth Collection

22 October 2019 to 15 March 2020

“My main theme is light.”

Christopher Lehmpfuhl paints in the open air, which is unusual for an artist of our time. What was a revolutionary step in the 19th century, is actually still so in the particular case of Lehmpfuhl, born 1972: going out into the open, capturing a light mood, observing how colours change. It was the invention of the lead tube for paint that enabled the early impressionists to swarm out into the open air to paint in the first place. As for Christopher Lehmpfuhl, he does not shy away from carrying out whole buckets full of paint into the landscape so as to work there. Without tools such as brush or spatula, the artist applies kilos of oil paint to the large canvas using his hands, thus achieving a pastose, three-dimensional corporeality.

Lehmpfuhl seeks the extremes. He travels the world in his mini-bus, from sea to mountains, in summer and winter. On his canvases we find both peaceful sun-drenched spring days as well as stormy scenes. He paints with all the senses. Weather conditions are an essential component of his work, influencing the material and the painter in equal measure.

Cityscapes make up another large group in Lehmpfuhl’s work, and Berlin is the city he knows best and paints most frequently. He grew up there, studied at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste under Klaus Fußmann, and he still lives and works there today. He captures the changes that city is undergoing in a way that is far removed from any postcard idyll. Cranes, dug up plots and demolition ruins populate many of his paintings. Over the decades he has captured repeatedly the same places, like the Schlossplatz. In this way his works become striking testimonies to time and offer viewers a lot more than a photograph ever could.

Lehmpfuhl‘s paintings show a state, yet more than that they convey a feeling, are “pathetic” in the best sense of the term. In classical rhetoric, pathos was regarded as one of the basic forms of speech, persuading the audience through emotional appeals. Anyone standing in front of works by Lehmpfuhl experiences precisely this; the feeling of being carried away into the painting’s particular mood.

Museum Würth is now devoting a large monographic show to this Berlin artist regarded as a shooting star of contemporary realism.

An extensive catalogue accompanying the exhibition will be published by Swiridoff Verlag.

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