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Helmut Middendorf

Helmut Middendorf

*  1953 Dinklage

While studying 1973-79 at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste [Art Academy] Middendorf experimented with many different contemporary possibilities for creating form. In 1975 his works were still dominated by sharply angular, three-dimensional shapes. However, at the suggestion of his teacher, Karl Horst Hödicke, the doyen of Berlin Neo-Expressionists, Middendorf switched in the late 1970s to working in a pointedly representational, painterly style. He is numbered among the ranks of the 'Young Wild Ones' who propagate 'vehement painting'. Middendorf varies themes chosen from his immediate environment and personal experience serially in different colour combinations. In vehement gesture and lurid colour, with the fall of light fulfilling an essential function in the composition, the artist catches the convulsive movements of dancers at the SO 36 Disco in Kreuzberg, Berlin or captures on canvas the pose of a rock singer, thus turning all these figures into 'modern icons'. In 1977 Middendorf and other pupils of Hödicke's founded the legendary 'Galerie am Moritzplatz' in Berlin-Kreuzberg, which showed films, photos and performances as well as painting, drawing and objects. Since 1979 Middendorf has been instructing experimental film at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, a medium which he was even working in while he was a student, laying the groundwork for a parallel career. However, what made the artist famous overnight was a group-show of 'Vehement Painting' mounted in the early 1980s at the Berliner Haus am Waldsee, where work of his was shown together with work done by Rainer Fetting, Salomé and Bernd Zimmer. That same year he received a study grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and went to New York. The shock of impact, linked with the projection of desires, revealed by Middendorf's emotional analysis of everyday life in Berlin and New York, has yielded in more recent work to greater serenity. By reducing his palette and ultimately turning to new subject matter, the artist has returned to a state of experimental receptivity. As reflections on his life and where he has gone and is going as an artist, the late 1980s 'Black Pictures' signalise a new departure.

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