C.W.Lübeck: Intense Phases
Date posted: August 13, 2012
C.W.Lübeck’s painting Time of Innocence reflects this sense of alienation. In this work, the artist captures a melancholic portrayal of an anonymous person. With halved face, part cerulean blue and part blue grey, there is a sense of fragmentation, a rupture in one’s life. The blue-grey half is expressionless and youthful; its other half features a worried brow and troubled eye staring towards the ground. The figure’s awkward, restrained posture painted in pale ochre’s and yellow creates an intimate, revealing narrative of the difficult life stages
“Lübeck’s palette is full of muted ochre’s and grays peaked by the occasional pale blue and crimson red.”
C.W.Lübeck, The Phases of Rammstein, Courtesy of the artist.
C.W.Lübeck: Intense Phases
By Jill Smith
Art is most often intended to exude a specific emotion out of its audience, but usually it is done in a subtle way, a way that challenges the viewer to look at it over and over again and to examine every last bit of it. C.W.Lübeck’s art doesn’t need a second viewing in order to understand the intended emotion; it hits you from the first second you lay eyes on it. Lübeck’s work fits squarely within a generation of surreal and expressionist inspired painters extending back as far as De Chirico and as forward and contemporary as Neo Rauch. Lübeck’s palette is full of muted ochre’s and grays peaked by the occasional pale blue and crimson red. His style is wholly original, painting in an illustrational manner. His latest series is entitled The Phases of Rammstein. Much like the band, his latest works are dark and full of emotionally intense episodes.
C.W.Lübeck’s work creates a tension that is hard to shake. Primarily, because his work operates on a psychological level that challenges the viewer. Inspired by the German industrial metal group, Rammstein, his next exhibit is entitled “The Phases Of Rammstein”, slated for the Rock Expo 2012, Sweden. The band works with dark themes, heavy guitar riffs, industrial beats and scathing vocals. Reise, Reise, a song and album title by the band, is based on the deadliest crash in history. On August 12, 1985 Japan Airlines Flight 123 suffered an explosion that caused the loss of all flight control and rendered the aircraft uncontrollable. Frantically, the pilots fought to keep the plane aloft for nearly a half hour, but eventually became trapped in the towering mountain ranges surrounding Mt. Fuji and crashed. Of the 524 people on board, only 4 people survived. Working with themes of tragedy, his work has much in common with Marx’s theory of alienation. Alienation is the systemic result of living in a socially stratified society, because being a mechanistic part of a social class alienates a person from his or her humanity. After the West became an industrial society, this sense of alienation increased. This is true particularly within a capitalist mode of production, where the worker invariably loses their ability to determine their destiny.
C.W.Lübeck, Time of Innocence, Courtesy of the artist.
C.W.Lübeck’s painting Time of Innocence reflects this sense of alienation. In this work, the artist captures a melancholic portrayal of an anonymous person. With halved face, part cerulean blue and part blue grey, there is a sense of fragmentation, a rupture in one’s life. The blue-grey half is expressionless and youthful; its other half features a worried brow and troubled eye staring towards the ground. The figure’s awkward, restrained posture painted in pale ochre’s and yellow creates an intimate, revealing narrative of the difficult life stages that we face. In Time of Innocence there is also a sense of personal pain and torture that is reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s historically popular painting, ‘The Scream’. Munch explained that his painting ‘represents the universal anxiety if the modern man’. He explained further that he painted this painting as ‘a study of the soul, [which is] to say the study of my own self’. Unlike Munch, Lübeck did not explain his painting any further, he chooses to leave the interpretation to the audience, and he encourages the audience to use their own imaginations when looking at his paintings, which, in some respect, makes his paintings more interesting and more enticing than if it had one.
Lübeck’s work also expands on the groundwork of De Chirico. Painting in Turin in the 1910s and 1920s, De Chirico’s streets, squares, and statues are frequently seen as looming architecture and side winding roads, conjuring up symbolic meaning. Like De Chirico, Lübeck reflects on past aspects of his childhood or adapts images from other memories of his personal biography, the artist’s poetic depiction of his external, everyday world figures an emotionally intense, inner world.
C.W.Lübeck, Contemporary Rulers, Courtesy of the artist.
Lübeck is also a brilliant illustrator, whose delft line work is expressive and moving. He even renders hands and characters in a way where they are metamorphosing into new, unnamable images. Too, Lübeck reflects on our current post-industrial society, one that is in decay and full of difficulty. In this sense, his work is incredibly contemporary and relevant. Works like Contemporary Rulers, captures the ugly side of global politics. In this piece, a large pig’s head painted in pale orange and umbers stares smugly out towards the viewer. The image is both beautifully painted and yet hideous all at the same time. Here, the pig is emblematic of political pundits around the world; an icon of filth. Wielding near absolute power, many so-called rulers work to create strife, enmity and war around the world at the expense of everyone else. These topics are on the minds of many artists including Neo Rauch. Rauch is a contemporary, German artist whose paintings mine the intersection of his personal history with the politics of industrial alienation. His work reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists although Rauch hesitates to align himself with surrealism. Rauch’s paintings suggest a narrative intent but, as art historian Charlotte Mullins explains, closer scrutiny immediately presents the viewer with enigmas: “Architectural elements peter out; men in uniform from throughout history intimidate men and women from other centuries; great struggles occur but their reason is never apparent; styles change at a whim.” Lübeck too works in many styles with a range of subject matter, all of which are a testament to his unique style, color and originality.
Lübeck challenges the viewer to think deeply about our world and about ourselves. His work is confrontational, expressive and full of intensity. His latest series, The Phases Of Rammstein, centers on a grand narrative that is both personal and global, and this is exactly what makes his work so important and relevant today.