On the Road in Theatrum Mundi. An exhibition of works by Dieter M. Weidenbach
Erarta Museum presents a retrospective of works by German artist Dieter M. Weidenbach
- A retrospective of the five decade relationship with Soviet/Russian art
- The artist's biography and the history of post WWII Europe in paintings
- A life of nonconformism, quest and provocation
Dieter M. Weidenbach spent four semesters in Leipzig studying history and art history; later, from 1964 to 1971, he pursued a degree in painting and graphic arts from the Leipzig Academy of Graphic Arts and Book Art. In 1968 he was sent to study at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute on a student exchange program. The exhibition at the Erarta Museum commemorates the 50th anniversary of the artist's first encounter with Russia.
His first Russia-induced aesthetic revelation was at the age of 14 when he, then a schoolboy, visited an exhibition of Soviet paintings. The artistic doctrine of 'socialist realism' proclaimed by Stalin set the tone for the official art all across the Soviet-influenced Eastern Europe. Weidenbach's first painting was a copy of a Kyrgyz girl's portrait by Semyon Chuikov. This artwork serves as an epigraph for the exhibition and testifies to the artist's close ties to both visual arts and the literature and music of the Soviet Union and Russia.
The exhibition spans 50 years of the artistic career which can be roughly divided into five parts. Each of them reflects the particular personal and historical circumstances which had a major impact on the artist's oeuvre. They can be perceived as a kind of caesuras, poetic breaks marking the milestones of the artistic path.
Part 1. Early works from the school and college years, from 1960 to 1975. An artist in search of his distinctive medium and form of expression.
Part 2. With On the Road painting the artist finds his unique voice, taking a critical stance toward the social developments. He scrutinizes the state of reality and yearns for change. At this point Weidenbach first comes under close supervision of the state authorities. 1976 to 1980 was also the time of the artist's study trips abroad to capitalist states.
Part 3. The artist's wife defects to West Berlin. This aggravates conditions for the artist who has stayed behind in the German Democratic Republic with his daughter. He starts to address more radical subjects. His works reflect increasingly sombre visions. Weidenbach resorts to the themes and painting techniques of the Middle Ages. His Isle of the Dead (After Arnold Böcklin) and Shrouded Goethe signify a symbolic break with the GDR.
In 1985, he leaves the country, is stripped of his citizenship, and moves with his daughter to West Berlin, later embarking on a prolonged voyage through those formerly unreachable lands for which he always felt a strong longing. Italy, France, Spain... Until 1990.
Part 4. The fall of the Eastern Bloc reconfigures Europe which sees a victorious march of the turbo society capitalism. The artist reacts to all the reversals, revisions, distortions and wars with a major series of paintings: Dance of Death, Gulf War, and Ground Zero. He lives and works in his hometown of Weimar. The artist retains his nonconformist attitude. Thus on his 70th anniversary he inaugurated a controversial show Crash at the Weimar Kunsthalle, confronting the consumerist society and the brutal destruction of the environment.
Part 5. The exhibition in St. Petersburg emphasizes the artist's connection to Russia. This is one of the most meaningful 'caesura' pauses in his creative progress. From this artistic reunion Weidenbach draws strength to elevate all his former creations to a new and final phase. His creative life has come full circle.