ANDRÉ BUTZER | KONZENTRATIONSPOLE
Special opening hours and guided tour for Zurich Art | March, organized by Zurich Art Weekend
Guided tour and drinks | Friday, March 4, 6.30pm
Opening hours during the weekend | Fr March 4, 11am-8pm, Sat-Sun March 5-6, 11am-7pm
Untitled, 2007, depicts a small house with a woman walking towards it. Her facial contours seem dissolved and are recognizable only through the black mouth and large frayed eyes. She points to the sparse façade, which is pierced only by a pair of two-shuttered windows. On the peaked gable, a letter presently adorns the plain property: “N”. The building is set on a lush green lawn, but the sky above is whitewashed in gassed gray.
“To me, drinking cola means dying endlessly,” states André Butzer, but at the same time, “I think it’s great.” He uses such absolute contradictions in all aspects of his work. A collection of this vocabulary is evident in the drawings and paintings on view at Livie Fine Art.
Butzer presumes a fundamental estrangement between humankind and the world that has destroyed everything human as a result of the industrialized world. He allows the beautiful and the terrible to merge, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. To reach any future from this point, he invents a fiction that includes everything that has existed, including the entertainment and destruction industries of the 20th century as well as motifs of late capitalism.
Butzer dreams up a cosmic place, “NASAHEIM”, unimaginable and only to be approximated, where everything is present and any pictorial figures can come together in peace in the picture: The faceless skull, which carries all shame and crime, but in whose desperate eyes and limp body one hears the longing for a peaceful existence – Untitled (Schandemann), 2006 – or the “Friedens-Siemense” – Untitled, 2006 -, which float insubstantially through the air, transcending everything in carefree innocence, yet knowing of the devastating horror of the world.
In the painting as well as in the presented drawings, one sees the effort of his figures to find a hold between concentration poles of promising place and imaginative insanity.
Drawing plays an important role in Butzer’s practice. His works on paper are neither part of the painting process nor made in advance as sketches, but are created afterwards, after the painting. Their function is memory, lightness, and note-taking. All drawings are independent. He revisits the same types of figures again and again and paints his pictures as often as possible to make the world “less terrible” with them.
Butzer’s self-declared “Science-Fiction Expressionism” separates itself in a dreamlike fashion from a distorted present. Here he views abstraction as a process of dissolution and detachment. It is an abstraction that protects him as a dreamer by no longer allowing him to repress the horrors, but to unfold them pictorially.
Butzer’s painting constantly expands in this attempt: From within, he dissolves his motifs, decomposes the pictorial figures into a non-representation whose contours seem to literally tear. He takes symbol and representation out of the picture, transforming it into abstract elements such as bundles of lines and circles (Untitled, 2009 and 2011).
There is an absence of titles and of figures, but absence of color does not exist in his work. Black and white are rather poles of concentration between which other colors move in order to be able to arrive at an elementary painterly image.
For André Butzer, painting is always also a demonstration of existence, which is constantly updated and perpetuated with each painting. Hence no two paintings are alike: There is no series. There are no titles. No “N-House” looks like the previous one, each is individual. The painter always asks about humankind, about its existence. His depicted figure is thus always also a figure of existence, be it abstract or a potato chip, it equally fulfills and reveals everything human.
Marlene A. Schenk
Palermo, February 2022
 ibid, p. 152.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
André Butzer, born in Stuttgart in 1973
Since 1996, his paintings have been the subject of numerous institutional exhibitions; solo exhibitions among others at IKOB Museum of Contemporary Art in Eupen, Belgium; Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover, Germany; Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Germany; Kunstverein Reutlingen, Germany; Museum of Light, Hokuto, Japan; Växjö Konsthall in Växjö, Sweden; and YUZ Museum, Shanghai, China.
Among others, works of his are part of the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Carré d’Art, Nîmes; Contemporary Art Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn; Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Falckenberg Collection; Hall Art Foundation, Reading; Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin State Museums, Berlin, Germany; Nationalgalerie / Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; LACMA, Los Angeles; MOCA, Los Angeles; Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen; Rubell Museum, Miami; YUZ Museum, Shanghai.
Image on top of the page:
wax crayon on paper, 68 x 50 cm