The strange thing about heads is that the more you leave out, the more intense the expression becomes. In a different way than in portrait painting. It has absolutely nothing to do with that. These figures are just that to me: figures. They’re sexless, they have no special attributes. They are specters, shadows. What’s very important to me is the intensity, the presence. What that does. What it does in the painting. What it does with the viewer. –Max Neumann
Bruce Silverstein is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Max Neumann. Featuring large-scale paintings on canvas as well as a single over-painted photograph, this exhibition is the gallery’s second solo show of Neumann’s work, an artist who has been the subject of over 150 solo exhibitions since the mid-1970s.
Over the past forty years, Max Neumann has largely centered his attention on the human figure—the head in particular. While his subject matter has remained consistent, Neumann’s style has varied, and his latest canvases are a new reading of the human face. Contemporary in tone, these head studies have a cartoonlike quality—unified by their redacted eyes and mouths—Neumann eliminates the key to deciphering the figure’s emotion. As the artist prefers not to divulge his inspiration and source material, it is difficult to articulate a definitive meaning or give easy explanation of these images; rather, Neumann leaves the viewer to fill in the gaps, to add details, and to construct imaginary narratives, as his images exist outside of time or place. In their bareness, Neumann’s paintings possess an emotive power, and an ineffable psychological drama heightened by his treatment of the canvas surface – combing and wiping the paint, draining the image in select places, marking on the face.
These new paintings are particularly interesting for their cropped quality, appearing as though the subject was seen through a viewfinder.
Max Neumann (b.1949) lives and works in Berlin. His works are in numerous public and private collections worldwide.