Anton Henning (b. Berlin, 1964) is presenting his first solo show in Spain and has conceived a special project for the occasion, transforming the exhibition space and creating a unique atmosphere that integrates his painting and sculpture in a complete installation. Self-taught, this multifaceted German artist has pursued his career since the mid-1980s in Berlin, London and New York, cities that have afforded him contact with other artists and the opportunity to pursue his studies in the art of previous generations with a view to creating his own language based on a personal reading of the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century.
In his interiors or installations, Henning sets out a “metalinguistic” reflection on his artistic language that ironizes the presentation of works in a museum space, questioning his own vision of art, the boundaries between representation and reality, and the voyeuristic role of the artist-spectator. His creative work embraces painting, sculpture, photography, video, drawing, music and design in spaces conceived as complete artistic environments (Gesamtkunstwerk) that offer the visitor a pleasurable experience. But through his technical control we meet layers of meaning and indirect reference to other artists such as Courbet, Picasso, Duchamp, Arp or Henry Moore. He dismantles the history of art up to the present day in order to reconstruct it completely in a new form of artistic synthesis, easily and naturally combining styles traditionally considered antagonistic.
If Matisse’s masterpieces show ambiguity about representation and decoration, Anton Henning takes this contrast between the figurative and the abstract to the limit by adopting an ironic distance with respect to his own work that allows him to paraphrase characteristic motifs and elements of other painters—such as Matisse’s decoration or Picabia’s nudes—with virtuosity and a sense of humour. The categories in which he classifies his works—portraits, interiors, still lifes, landscapes—are witty misdirections; he plays with traditional genres, giving a reading and treatment of form that not onlyshows awareness of postmodernism but goes far beyond it, contemplating the past ironically and knowingly.
This exhibition shows paintings from a series of nudes, interiors, portraits and surrealist compositions, as well as bronze sculptures and an ensemble of canvases that offer an unexpected interpretation of some characters from The Simpsons.
Henning currently lives between Berlin and Manker, in northwest Brandenburg. His most recent solo exhibitions and installations at institutions include Midnight in Paris at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen in 2015, Stedeljk Museum Amsterdam and those mounted at Stockholm’s Magasin 3 and at Geneva’s Mamco in 2012. He has also exhibited in the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Scotland. His work is part of notable permanent collections such as those of the Arp Museum in Rolandseck, Kunsthalle Mannheim, the Wilhelm Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen, , SMAK in Ghent, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin, the Centre National des Arts in Paris, the Frieder Burda Museum in Baden - Baden, the Krefelder Kunstmuseen in Krefeld, LA County Museum of Art and MOCA in Los Angeles, the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main and the National Museum of Art in Osaka, among others.