Controlled chaos

Tate Modern unveils new insights into the work of pioneering British artist Frank Auerbach
By Lewis Firth | Art | 14 October 2015
Above:

“Reclining Head of Julia II, 1997”, The Lewis Collection, © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

Of all the stellar things to catch at the Tate Modern, be sure to get down to the major exhibition of Frank Auerbach’s work, offering an acute insight into the Berlin-born British artist’s celebrated skill.

On first glimpse, Auerbach’s style appears expressionistic – but that’s not necessarily the case. Expressionism was primarily concerned with representing non-tangible concepts, like emotion, dreams and thoughts. Figurativism is more accurate. Intense relationships are developed with his subjects – whether that be Estella Olive West or a place in London – which is promotes itself through Auerbach’s large, protruding swathes of oil paint.

Viscosity of the oil creates depth – intentions of its physicality represents a deeper, more pragmatic objective within his work.

“Self-Portrait, 1958”, Courtesy of Daniel Katz Gallery, London, © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

Painting individuals and landscapes is a process of representation. Dissatisfaction is paired with a reaction like any normal creative: he starts again – and the paint is scraped away. Paintings are re-done countlessly until Auerbach is content with what he’s produced.

Striking, energetic and vigorously emotive, his paintings represent his subjects in a chaotic, yet controlled, procedural manner rendering his collection as oxymoronically profound.

GALLERY

‘Frank Auerbach: Paintings and Drawings from the Lucian Freud Estate’ runs until 13th March 2016 at Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG

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