Artist Karl Horst Hödicke is known for his neo-expressionist paintings that are playful, lively, vivid and closely related to his environment. The show in KÖNIG GALERIE includes a selection of 16 paintings, which were exhibited widely in Nave of St. Agnes, prioritizing a perspective of the meditative and introspective side of the artists’ works. The artwork selection for Hödicke’s solo exhibition has structured the focus of the undiscovered within the artist’s oeuvre.
In the paintings exhibited at KÖNIG GALERIE, we have a closer look at Hödicke’s practice, the wide use of brushstrokes and the unique selection of the color palette, giving the audience the feeling as if we are seeing a place through a memory. I find this personally very interesting in terms of thinking about Berlin, how the city has changed over time, and how Hödicke witnessed this throughout the years. We can have the sense with his paintings how it is seen through memories, also witnessing his memories, as Berlin’s cityscape is a central motif in his work.
We recognize the artist Hödicke from his paintings and drawings for sure, but for those who are especially living in Istanbul as I do, we would recall the artist from the recent group exhibition this year in ARTER Museum between February and April 2022. Curated by Emre Baykal, derived from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition “This Play” revolved exactly as the name suggests, around the concepts of childhood and play. There weren’t large-scale paintings but instead, his screen prints were exhibited. Among Hödicke’s screen prints exhibited at this show, the works exhibited brought the painting to the playground. “Hödicke creates neo-expressionist paintings that are not only playful but also closely associated with his time and environment,” Baykal said. These words are important in the sense that the artist is exploring the vast urban environment of Berlin, where he could observe the post-war and everchanging evolution and emergence of iconic buildings and construction sites throughout the years of observation.
Drawing our attention again today to the exhibition at KÖNIG GALERIE, we recognize a recurring theme looking at the paintings. Karl Horst Hödicke, born in 1938 in Nuremberg, Germany, is a contemporary German artist known for his Neo-Expressionist paintings. In the paintings exhibited today in the gallery, we recognize a frequent theme of myths such as medea, sirens, magicians, ancient columns and haunting views of the ocean. All of the mentioned myths are given in an appearance in the paintings almost totemic out of the characters and scenes of Hödicke’s choice. The paintings exhibited are more meditative and directed to the artist’s inner world, as myths are not just stories but ways of seeing and translating the world, and in this respect, the works on display here belong very much to the unique language that Hödicke has developed over “seven decades of activity – vigorously alive and unabashedly direct,” according to KÖNIG.
This exhibition allows us to explore the inner and hidden side of artists’ practice, given the fact that it brings us closer to artists’ modes of transformation of the images.
I would like to draw final attention to Neue Wilde as it is an important part of German Art History. Artist Hödicke has been based in Berlin for more than 50 years, and he has been practicing under the school of Neue Wilde, an artistic movement that is used in Germany for neo-expressionism. The movement emerged once more in the country in the 1970s and 1980s. When we think about the 1970s, when minimalism and conceptual art dominated the world of art globally, neo-expressionism was a reaction to that and was recognized in U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy. Similar to the other neo-expressive movements during the time, the artworks of the Neue Wilde put highlight o the usage of bright, vivid intense colors accompanied by energetic, fast, broad brushstrokes.
Looking back through the years and how Hödicke’s life was intertwined with painting, it is interesting that he first enrolled to study architecture instead of painting and that this went on to affect his perspective and approach. In 1957, Hödicke moved to Berlin, enrolling in the Technical University for architecture before transferring to the Hochschule der Künste, where he studied painting under Fred Thieler. Soon, he was an important figure in the history of German postwar modernism and had the courage to choose a path with figurative painting in an international era of abstraction. “Having moved to Berlin in 1957, Hödicke became one of the spokespeople for a small group of impetuous young lateral thinkers who wanted to revolutionize painting. No sooner had German postwar modernism rejoined the international artistic trend toward the abstract than they revolted against this new doctrine with a revival of figurative painting, which had been declared obsolete,” KÖNIG said about the artist.
In 1959, he studied under Fred Thieler at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Berlin, yet he leaned toward figurative expressionist style in his paintings rather than embracing Thieler's teachings of abstract art. Even going further, he became part of a group called “Vision,” in 1961, an artists' cooperative that employed figurative works through total rejection of abstraction. After the group dissolved, the artist had to leave painting for a more conceptual approach. Then, Hödicke took his seat as the prominent artist of Neuen Welden school, alongside other world-renowned names such as George Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz and A.R. Penck.
“He was one of the main protagonists and drivers of the New Savages or Junge Wilde movement in 1978, which arose in the German-speaking world in opposition to established minimal and conceptual strategies,” the gallery mentioned the artist.
The artist is recognized internationally by institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Hamburger Bahnhof and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and has been included in Venice Biennale and documenta.