The exhibition Aktion Paintings presents a wide selection of works created by American painter Julian Schnabel between 1985 and 2017.
Disregarding chronological order, the paintings are arranged in accordance with recurring themes that have occupied Schnabel’s work over the last 40 years. The exhibition was created in close collaboration with the artist, who has greatly influenced the format of the show, creating a new and different kind of presentation that startles even as it captures his intense creative energy .
Julian Schnabel (b. 1951, Brooklyn) is one of the most influential living painters of today and the pre-eminent figure behind the return of narrative, figurative painting in the early 1980s. Beginning with his earliest works, Schnabel broke with the prevailing paradigm of Conceptual Art by forging a unique artistic practice that embraced figuration and personal narratives.
Julian Schnabel has exercised tremendous influence on painting from the 1980s to the present day: an influence that can still be felt among new generations of young painters. Through a career spanning almost forty years, Schnabel has experimented with and opened up the boundaries of painting, always focusing on the question of surfaces and working with a constantly changing array of materials – from pottery shards and tarpaulins to photographic prints.
Schnabel’s ability to constantly re-actualise himself is also evident in his great success working in other media. In 1996 Schnabel directed the film Basquiat about friend and fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and in 2007 he presented the critically acclaimed film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He has directed a total of six films, the most recent being At Eternity’s Gate about the painter van Gogh. For which Williem Dafoe, who plays the lead character, recently won the award for best actor at the Venice International Film Festival. Schnabel’s films have a close affinity with his art, and his work with cinema can be seen as a natural extension of his painting.