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Erró. Portrait and landscape. The critically ironic monstrous collage paintings by the Icelandic artist at Schirn

Icelandic artist Erró is one if the big lone wolfs in the art world of the 20th century. Some words that come to mind: pop and baroque, striking and narrative, socially relevant and witty, moralistic and cryptic. He created an indistinguishable oeuvre over the last 50 years, which refused to be pigeon holed.

In his critically narrative collages, he combines picturesque templates taken from various popular sources and creates meaningful, often disturbing tableaux. Reflecting the major social engines – politics, war, sexuality, science and art, the visual arrangements appear to be attempts to create a visual atlas of the modern world.

The SCHIRN exhibition presents the Errós 'Scapes' series that is distinctively critical of consumer and media culture as well as the whole 'Monster' cycle and was created in 1968.

In this grotesque series of double-portraits, the artist opposes the official portraits of famous personalities with a second, monstrously distorted face. With the wink of an eye, he warns us of not trusting whatever we might see in the official depiction of a person, first and foremost it is a reaction to the predominant processes in medial representation. This makes 'Monsters' more than relevant in our day and age of the media.

Furthermore, Erró films from the 1960s are shown as a connecting element between his two works.

Errós, born in 1932 as Guðmundur Guðmundsson in Ólafsvik, grew up on a remote farm in the south-west of Iceland and is still considered one of the nation's most important artists. Before finding his voice in contemporary art, Erró studied at traditional art schools in Reykjavik and Oslo and pursued fresco painting and mosaic art in Italy. He found his way into the international avant-garde scene in 1958, when he moved to and settled in Paris.

Strongly influenced by surrealism from the beginning, Erró was surrounded by European and US-American 'New Realism' trends and Pop-Art artists in the 1960s but developed his own language in the shape of critical and ironic collage painting, based on the artistic reproduction of visual templates distributed by the mass media.

Thousands of paintings, usually in themed series are still being created to this day and see Erró combine fragments of all sorts of visual spheres – comics, caricatures, post cards, photographs, films, art reproductions, illustrated encyclopaedias, catalogues and magazines of any kind – thrown into the mix without restraint, reshaped into new imagery that is often of a disturbingly visual impact.

Curator: Esther Schlicht, SCHIRN
6. October 2011 – 8. January 2012
Römerberg, D-60311 Frankfurt