Within the Dresden group of the „autoperforation artists“ Via Lewandowsky once undermined the official art scene of the GDR with subversive performances. Since then he has been preoccupied with the question: what is appropriate for a specific society? „Socialism will triumph“ was an iron dogma in the GDR, but today this phrase is just ridiculous. The question „can that be done?“ remains on the agenda. A carefully prepared gas stove, ready for suicide: Can one present this as a work of art? Or slay a bird with a lump of paint? Well, violating taboos, ignoring the stop signs of political correctness can be quite liberating – and is thoroughly political.
Lewandowsky links the political to humor, satire and irony. Humorists know about the tragic side of man’s existence, the futility of our doings and the necessity to submit. The artist’s example: a large cabinet tries to cross a door and gets stuck inextricably (with the cabinet, not the wall, firmly on the ground). Deadlock is the appropriate word for this situation, it is a matter of life and death. Our laughter sticks in the throat.
The cuckoo clock, that releases a muezzin’s call, or writing that looks like islamic characters: theses are comments on present-day issues. In general, however, this work expresses trans-temporal aspects. Like all humorists and satirists, Landowsky is a pessimist, or a skeptic at least, and thus a philosopher. He answers the quest for the meaning of life (as in the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) with the figure 42.
For the existentialist Albert Camus, man lives in a situation of the absurd, being trapped in the tension between the senselessness of the world and his desire for sensible action. Deadlock. Life is a maze, and it is easy to lose one’s thread – as it happens to Dad with his copper pipes. Or it is a fragile house of cards – like the one Lewandowsky piles up with exhibition walls. Life is a game, and sometimes you’ve simply got a bad hand. Tough luck.
This art is rooted in dadaism and surrealism, happening and fluxus. Yet of equal importance is its literary tradition, the works equal essays, reflexions and aphorisms. Like Machiavelli, they are brutal and without illusion, they are sympathetic like Montaigne, snappy like Jonathan Swift and elegant like Oscar Wilde. Even in the visual arts our search for precursors results in narratives: the modern moral subjects by William Hogarth. It is, one might assume, not without reason that the writer Durs Grünbein has been Lewandowsky’s closest artistic companion for decades. Within the œuvre words play a prominent role. Lewandowsky creates new terms and letterings and takes proverbs literally: he slices a canary cum cage in two halves and calls this „A pleasure shared is a fun doubled“.
Till Eulenspiegel’s emblems apply for this artist, too: The owl symbolizes his wisdom, in his mirror we recognize ourselves. The fool is a moralist, his wickedness accrues from his desperation about the state of the world. And the world is and remains full of riddles – which neither fool nor artist can solve in full.
For further information please visit the artist’s website.
|1963||Born in Dresden|
|1982-87||Studied at the Art Academy Dresden|
|1989||Moved to West-Berlin|
|2008-09||Guest professor, Akademie der Künste, München|
|2013-14||Guest professor, Universität der Künste, Berlin|
|Lives in Berlin|
grants & awards
|2011||Villa Massimo, Rom|
|2009||Villa Aurora, Los Angeles|
|2005||Bejing Case, Bejing
German Critics Award
|1998||Botho Graef art award of the city of Jena|
|1997||Kunstfonds Foundation, Bonn|
|1995||Art Award, Leipziger Volkszeitung|
|1994||Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada)|
|1991||Grant of the Berlin Senate for P.S.1, New York|
Via Lewandowsky has participated in a large number of group shows worldwide; his solo shows include regular presentations at Karin Sachs Munich, Martina Detterer Frankfurt on Main, Michael Schultz Berlin and Seoul, Ute Parduhn Düsseldorf, Arndt & Partner Berlin.
The institutional solo shows:
|2016||Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig|
|2015||Kunsthalle zu Kiel|
|2014||Momentum, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin
Casa di Goethe, Rom
|2008||Haus am Waldsee, Berlin|
|2007||Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg|
|2006||Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin
Forum für Kunst, Heidelberg
|2005||Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig|
|2002||Goethe Institut Rom|
|2000||Deutsches Hygiene Museum, Dresden
|1999||Kunstverein Lingen, Kunstverein Rosenheim, Albrecht Dürer-Gesellschaft Nürnberg|
|1998||Deutsches Museum Bonn|
|1995||Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig|
Goethe Institut Toronto
For a complete biography please see the artist’s website.