Born in 1931 in Czechoslovakia, the son of bourgeois parents, Schlesinger had a turbulent childhood and youth. His Jewish background meant that he was only able to attend elementary school and in the last years of the war the family was forced to go into hiding to avoid deportation to the Theresienstadt ghetto. At the end of the war the family moved to the Soviet zone of occupation, from where Gil Schlesinger set off alone in on New Year’s Eve 1947/48 , travelling across Bavaria to reach Israel and help with the building of the new Jewish state. With the newly-awakened enthusiasm for painting, in 1955 he left Israel again and travelled a circuitous route across Europe to his mother in Eisleben, Germany. He began by working as a theatre set painter, before attending the Fachschule für angewandte Kunst in Leipzig. After graduating he initially worked at theatres in Meiningen and then Leipzig.
During this time he created portraits and landscapes, but also his first abstract pictures. In 1956 he made his first appearance as an artist, in 1968 he became a full member of the VBK/DDR, the GDR visual artists association. His independence, the unconventional nature of his work and his abstract designs led to him become a figure of cultural life known far beyond the boundaries of Leipzig. In 1980 he was granted his wish to leave the GDR. Gil Schlesinger first went to Munich, later Pfaffenhofen/Ilm, where he lives and works to this day.
With his paintings Schlesinger exceeds the expectations of the observer, so radically do his works deny the traditional aesthetic. Over the course of his career the initially figurative forms were increasingly abstracted. The bold, warm colourfulness of his early work gives way to a direct material experience characterised by coarse structures and a lack of priming, dynamised through energetic brush strokes and scratches. The work groups illustrate his intensive focus on various themes of a historic and political, literary and art-historical nature, as well as autobiographical ones.
The exhibition has been created in close collaboration with the artist and looks to illustrate Gil Schlesinger’s unswerving path to abstraction and enable the fascination of his image worlds to be experienced.