‘Every Painting Is Abstract’: Adrian Ghenie on His Recent Work and Evolving Sense of Self
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‘Every Painting Is Abstract’: Adrian Ghenie on His Recent Work and Evolving Sense of Self

Adrian Ghenie, Rest During the Flight Into Egypt, 2016, oil on canvas. ©ADRIAN GHENIE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY The large and small works in Adrian Ghenie’s “Recent Paintings” show at Pace Gallery in New York—comprising recent paintings, as might be surmised, but also preparatory collages—range from figurative to abstract and back again. The finer points of such distinctions, however, are beside the greater overall point for an artist who retains a lot of faith in painting as an enterprise. Adrian Ghenie. “Every painting is abstract,” Ghenie said in the midst of an exhibition that counts as his first in New York in nearly four years. “I don’t believe in figurative. As soon as it starts to imitate, to depict something, then a painting is dead. This is the moment when you kill painting.” Compositions can be figurative, he said, but the power of painting—when it has any power at all—is less in the cause than in the effect. And that effect is abstract regardless of the elements that went into creating a picture or considering it after the fact. “People imagine that abstraction is some kind of gesture,” Ghenie said of those who approach abstraction as a rhetorical stance. “But when […]

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