This can certainly be called a coup. Even if there are no long queues on the market square, no time slots to book for this brilliant exhibition and the visitors do not literally stand on their feet as in the blockbuster exhibitions of this world. It is a small miracle that a gallery like the Leipzig gallery Kleindienst, that even one of the world-operating addresses like David Zwirner has even agreed to get into this small boat. For an exhibition, therefore, not at Tate Britain, the Serpentine Gallery or the Stedelijk Museum Ghent, where Rose Wylie has exhibited in recent years.
Freelance author for the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.
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But, as museum director Christoph Breitwieser characterizes his house, in the Museum Bensheim on Bergstraße, which was once conceived as a "universal museum in miniature". Certainly, in recent years, the house, housed in a former tithe building of Lorsch Abbey, has repeatedly made a name for itself beyond its reputation as a local history museum with presentations of contemporary art and especially current painting. But bringing together Rosa Loy and Rose Wylie, two internationally renowned positions, in a dialogical exhibition, would not necessarily have been expected in a comparatively small museum off the beaten track.
Surreal realism meets pop and punk
What's more, one could not expect that Loy's fairytale-like, gently surreal realism of one of the main representatives of the New Leipzig School would merge with the art of the English painter, born in 1934, who gleefully shimmered between pop and punk, art brut and bad painting. But both have known each other for a good twenty years. And appreciated themselves even before the meteoric rise of Wylie, which only picked up speed when she was already approaching eighty. Which is why the show entitled "Doublets" not only relates a series of paintings by the two artists in dialogue.
With "Kris und das blaue Mädchen" (Kris and the Blue Girl), the exhibits also include a collaborative paper work that has been sent back and forth between Loy's studio in the Leipzig cotton mill and Wylie's studio in Kent several times. In general, it is the drawings, prints and collages alone that make the trip to the Bergstraße worthwhile. On the one hand, it is Loy's feather-light works on paper, which are always fractured and linked to the colourfulness of socialist realism, and, on the other hand, Wylie's studies, for example for a simply magnificent sheet like "Scissor Girl", that stand out.
Finissage with Rosa Loy
Quite apart from the fact that Wylie's work, the pasty figures carved onto the raw canvas and their constantly emerging, discarded and newly begun drawings, are still surprisingly little known in Germany. And Loy, who celebrates her 11th birthday on 65 April at the finissage in Bensheim, can also be rediscovered here. As an artist whose literally fabulous work not only embraces the viewer like "a protective elf dance", as Neo Rauch once characterized the presence of the predominantly female figures of her painting in their shared home.
Certainly, despite all the stylistic and thus delicate proximity to her husband's work, Loys seems to be carried by a romantic-cheerful color like dreamed painting realized in casein on canvas. Above all, however, her pictorial narratives leave the art viewer the space that one sometimes misses in front of the enigmatic, possibly rather nightmared compositions of Neo Rauch. As I said, a coup. And an extremely stimulating exhibition. And with a little luck, you actually have them all to yourself on a weekday.
■ Rosa Loy and Rose Wylie – Doublet exhibition at Museum Bensheim, Marktplatz 13, until 11 April, Thu and Fri from 15 pm to 18 pm, weekends from 12 noon to 18 pm. Finissage with Rosa Loy on April 11 from 18 pm.