Voices of contemporaries

Ingeborg Ruthe | Berliner Zeitung, Feuilleton, 10.02.2005

There he shows the panels created before 1989 and the new ones. And there we are confronted with a very different kind of "New Leipzig School". It is not the neo-Romantic to neo-Surrealist variant of the realistic themes freely copied from photographs and in flat, cool colours. Gehse confesses with every stroke of colour who his teacher was for this preoccupation with, say, the seven deadly sins of the petit bourgeois. Here, just like in the old Heisig, the colours are still hurled onto the canvas, boiled up into waves, scraped down, piled up again into seething masses. Delacroix would have called it "A feast for the eyes". Moreover, Gehse never stopped painting in front of the model. His "Nachwende" paintings literally explode with self-reflection, with addiction to perception and knowledge. It is a painting of wild, grand gestures, of highly dramatic and once again allegorical subjects. His success is only surpassed by that of his Leipzig colleague Neo Rauch.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Stölzl
(Senator (ret.), Vice-President of the Berlin House of Representatives, excerpt from the speech at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, 22.10.2003, catalogue book)

On the painter's side, there is no sign of the shyness that many artists have before the very different of big politics and which then pushes itself as a filter of perception between them and their model. There is not even the well-known perplexity of contemporaries in the face of the quite literal blowing up of the frame by the physical appearance of Helmut Kohl. What Gehse first saw and then painted is the figure of Kohl in European history. What kind of picture is this that Albrecht Gehse painted of Helmut Kohl? It jumps out at us, it disturbs and upsets us, it gets close and too close. If there is still a sense of distinction between the significant and the insignificant in the German public, then this portrait will cause disquiet. It is not indifferent how our chancellors look in the media, which includes such an archaic medium as the blackboard.

Dr. Bärbel Mann
(Author and art historian, excerpt from the catalogue book 'Das Gemälde Helmut Kohl von Albrecht Gehse')

Albrecht Gehse is a painter of intoxicating obsession who records his life in pictures These are his form of diary, in which the private is fixed and relived in fast motion, or in which he intuitively sketches scenes that he sees confirmed in retrospect by what has happened. in these artistic births, in which belly and head, intellect and feeling vie with each other, he expresses himself and at the same time passes judgement on the wider world. Anyone who studies the pinboard with dozens of sketches in his studio will easily recognise the dramaturgy of his paintings, or rather the work plan for the coming weeks and months. To remain in the functional cast of the theatre: Gehse is dramaturge, director and actor in one - in the latter function he reserves the position of participant observer. He does not see himself as a preacher, advisor or moralist. His approach to reality is that of a man who has remained curious, a man who - in the best sense of the word - has remained naïve, who participates in the dramatic and comedic play of life with keen interest and childlike pleasure, and who is himself part of it. Those who experience Albrecht Gehse follow him on his exploration of the world, as long as opportunity and condition allow it. A hunger for life and visions are discharged in colour ecstasies and whirlpools of form, with which he succeeds in celebrating the extraordinary in everyday occurrences. Whether intentional or involuntary, Albrecht Gehseist is a calendar philosopher, in his story, consisting of many stories, the questions outweigh the answers.Not everything can be explained.Perhaps, apart from the convincing artistic professionalism, it is precisely this degree of innocence and irreverence that accounts for part of his success(...) in the midst of all the world explainers.

Christoph Tannert
(Exhibition maker, art critic, managing director of Künstlerhaus Bethanien, excerpt from the speech at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, 22.10.2003, catalogue book)

One stands in disbelief before the early portraits, captivated by the intensity of the colour tone, which wants to say how good a life in spite of this can be. The disbelief arises from the feeling of not being particularly close to them, for these faces come from behind the wall of time, and yet one wants to participate in every brushstroke in order to translate the particles of reality they contain. Albrecht Gehse painted these pictures in the exciting yet leaden atmosphere of that time, when thousands left the GDR because of social stagnation, knowing that his solidarity with those portrayed represented the weakest possible corrective to a system of holding patterns and institutionalised lies. When Albrecht Gehse, together with Wolfram Adalbert Scheffler, Hans. J. Schulze and Trak Wendisch exhibited at the East Berlin gallery Sophienstraße 8, the public experienced for the first and last time that hesitation bordering on disgust that characterised the scandalously intense pictures of the exhibitors (for all their stylistic diversity!) and made the blood boil in the veins of the socialist art judges. This was the vibrating environment from which Albrecht Gehse came, but one had to realise that it was formed in the clash of several self-contained and mutually exclusive universes that repelled each other like the plus or minus poles of two magnets. Early on, Gehse's life-affirming style and his passion for social trace elements were praised.His pictorial intelligence, with which he staggered a multitude of figures into monumental formats, betrayed ambition. The dexterity with which he formed an unmistakable pictorial programme from the stately dowry of the Leipzig Academy explicitly challenged his rival former fellow students.But Gehse stands on a firm foundation when he outgrows himself to become the saviour of lost paradises. Yet it is far more than the polished craftsmanship, precisely the immediacy, that makes Gehse's pictures revered without categories.

Bernhard Heisig

Albrecht Gehse studied with me at the Leipzig Art Academy. He showed an unconcerned painting, largely free of fashionable influences. In this way he achieved surprising results.

Werner Tübke

Large images of people, recognition for the chancellor, bell-heavy tone of devotion over the image.

Prof. Dr. Hans Wielens
(Retired Chairman of the Board, Deutsche Bank Bauspar AG in Frankfurt a.M. Founder and Director of the StiftungAuthentischFühren - Zen -Akademie fürFührungskräfte)

I had already heard about a young, impetuous and talented painter in Leipzig when I visited some artists' studios during the fair in 1990. But already the first paintings in Albrecht Gehse's studio caught my eye and captivated me. Especially the large painting 'Atlantis' seemed to me like the metamorphosis of the GDR into the unknown and open. Were the huge masses of water supposed to represent the market economy? The church - in the guise of a priest - observing, in a certain way helpless, its eyes directed into the endless distance. A figure of power and doer, brutal and devious, seeking the saving shore. Only the female element in the painting seems capable of playfully adapting to the new elemental force, seems to convey hope and a future. A powerful painting, begun in 1988, completed in 1989. A foreboding and allegorical representation of what is actually an unexpected collapse? Albrecht Gehse is a painter whose works cannot be forgotten. They burn themselves into the memory. He is an artist who - it seems - has infinite power and enthusiasm. He is an artist who - it seems - has infinite strength and enthusiasm. Like all vigorous people, this occasionally leads him astray, which can come to a crisis, but which so far has not impaired the artistic quality of his work but strengthened it. Albrecht Gehse goes his own way, even though Bernhard Heisig has left a formative mark on him as a teacher. Gehse is able to maintain relationships and develop them into friendships, which also makes him likeable and credible as a person.

Ulrich Pfaffelhuber
(VAF Pfaffelhuber GmbH)

It was love at first sight when I saw and acquired Albrecht Gehse's 'Gendarmenmarkt' at the Capital Club Berlin two years ago. The painting led me to the painter and I opened up other paintings, especially his portraits. I had to wrestle with Albrecht Gehse for a long time before he let me have the painting 'Spiel des Lebens'(Indian). They are not beautiful paintings, but they are exciting in that they reflect not only the day sides, but also the night sides of life. The mixture of reality and the vision of what is to come is probably the surprising and always attractive thing that moved me to systematically collect Albrecht Gehse. The love for the paintings has turned into friendship with the artist. I am happy to have the opportunity to confess this here.

Karoline Müller
Erfahrungen als Galeristin (aus dem Katalog 'Menschenbildniss in der Diskussion', Kleinsassen 1990)

The picture shows the Leipzig artist with his then fellow student friend at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts Hans Schulze. Schulze is a conceptual artist. His diploma thesis (that is the final artistic paper at the Leipzig Academy) was about: Art as a Productive Force, he designed walls and rooms of the college over two floors with assemblages of found objects, transparencies, mirrors and also made recordings of conversations to the content, was "not assessed" by the professors. Schulze has lived in West Berlin for three years, and six months ago he "occupied" a border watchtower at the Reichstag in Berlin, where he carried out artistic mourning work. Schulze's work was also "unappreciated" in the West, he remains unnoticed as a real vanguard. It was the journeys of the lame and the blind, in the morning mood and in the evening mood, as riders of the road," says Gehse. In 1980-81, Gehse and Schulze drove out four tonnes of vegetables with a W 50 truck. They say: "We could talk to everyone, see society from above and below! Gehse ordered Schulze to the meetings in a yellow shirt. Schulze says, yellow are the thoughts. The painter demanded that the model open her eyes for hours. In the truck they discussed the nature of the machine, the nature of guns, political aesthetics, again and again art as a productive force, and that realism is not only the visible but also the invisible. They talked about "general human values, and how to maintain an order". Gehse says: "Drive off, continue, take off, drive through." In 1982 at the 9th Art Exhibition in Dresden, the painting came third in the questionnaires available to the public. In the turmoil of the Unification Treaty, Gehse bought the painting back from the owner: "Agricultural Exhibition of the GDR, Permanent Innovation Centre, Bearer of the Fatherland Order of Merit in Gold and the Order Banner of Labour, Markkleeberg." When the artist collected his painting from the cellar there, after the fall of the Wall, with traces of rat infestation and extinguishing stains from the fire brigade, someone said: "Finally the crooked thing comes away!"