Willem Baars Projects opens the new gallery season with a presentation of paintings and drawings by Swiss artist Martin Disler (1949 – 1996). The oeuvre of this influential artist from the 1980s and 1990s is characterized by its unbridled energy, speed and expressive style.
Martin Disler’s rise at the end of the 1970s coincided with the shock wave of Neo-Expressionist painting that was spreading across Europe. These new raw manifestations, combining gesture, rebellion and anarchy, tied in seamlessly with Disler’s uncompromising artistic practice. Themes like sex, violence, fear, love and transience take shape in an explosion that is driven by urges and desires. Through his ability to let lines and forms move across the canvas or the paper with great clarity and sense of rhythm Disler succeeds in keeping together what otherwise might haven ended in chaos.
Disler was always an outsider who belonged both everywhere and nowhere. Perhaps this is also the reason why he doesn’t enjoy the same reputation that was later accorded to his contemporaries Clemente, Baselitz and Lüpertz. His untimely death in 1996 at the age of 47 brought an abrupt end to a promising career. His work has unjustly faded from view, though he was embraced by the art world during his lifetime. He could count on the early support of star curator Harald Szeemann, who presented him at the Venice Biennial in 1980, along with the young Italian artists Chia, Cucchi and Clemente. In 1982, Rudi Fuchs invited Disler to participate in Documenta 7, and this was followed by numerous exhibitions in museums in Europe and America. Prominent galleries like Galerie Paul Maenz, Marian Goodman Gallery and Konrad Fischer Galerie also included him in their program.
Disler is one of the icons of the neo-expressionist movement which made such a lasting impression some 40 years ago. We are thrilled to be able to show the monumental painting untitled (1979). This raw, unsparing work is a prime example of Neo-Expressionist painting championed by the ‘Neue Wilden’. The presentation also includes a number of beautiful (large-scale) drawings which provide an even deeper insight into his talent and artistic practice.