TURMBAU ZU BABEL, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 86.6 x 70. 8 inches. Images courtesy of Marc Straus Gallery
The vibrant, piled-up homes in a new seris of paintings by Ulf Puder look as though they might cave in if so much as a stiff breeze blows past their scaffolding. Urban architecture has been a muse for the German painter over the last three decades. In his latest show at Marc Straus Gallery, Puder depicts abandoned architectural structures, precariously stacked on top of one another in a way that makes it difficult to read them as buildings. In addition to their multicolored complexions, Puder’s constructions look as though they’ve been forcibly compressed like debris in a tsunami. But despite his paintings’ jumbled and overlapping arrays, Puder’s work show a technical mastery of scale, color, and shape.
WASSERLANDSCHAFT MIT GROSSEM HAUS UND STAFFAG, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 67 x 86.6 inches
Puder’s paintings fall somewhere between a demonstration of the artist’s careful study of form and pure abstraction. His objects are distinct thanks to his strong line, but they are colored and arranged in a way that suggests something funny about their geometry. “I see my work as a link in a chain between existing images of past generations (a huge history from which we all draw) and the unknown,” Puder tells The Creators Project. “I use picture titles from the history of art which become departures points for my work in design, color, and form.”
ROMANTISCHE LANDSCHAFT, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 63 x 82.6 inches
Puder is part of the first generation of artists to graduate from the Leipzig Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (Academy of Visual Arts). He and peers were on the cutting edge of what was coined ‘The Leipzig School,’ an art movement typified by its followers’ mastery of the brush and use of narrative. Despite being completely devoid of human or animal life, one can’t help but imagine the stories behind Puder’s uninhabited landscapes. Is this what remains of the Florida coast after the ice caps melt? You decide.
Ulf Puder’s works are on display at the Marc Straus gallery through February 10th. Learn more about the show on the gallery’s website.