Saturday 10 September 2016

Sarah Moros from Artforum on the EUGEN GABRITSCHEVSKY show at La Maison Rouge

SARAH MOROZ from Artforum on the EUGEN GABRITSCHEVSKY show at La Maison Rouge

Eugen Gabritschevsky
La Maison Rouge
10, Boulevard de la Bastille
July 8–September 18


View of “Eugen Gabritschevsky,” 2016.
View of “Eugen Gabritschevsky,” 2016.

"Eugen Gabritschevsky was a relative unknown until he was discovered by Jean Dubuffet, who bought seventy-one of the artist’s works within a decade. Gabritschevsky’s well-to-do, cultivated childhood in Russia initially led to a brilliant scientific career. In 1925 he started a postdoctoral program in New York, working as a geneticist when the field was still in its infancy. Gabritschevsky, however, was hospitalized in Zurich for schizophrenia in 1931, and then transferred to the Eglfing-Haar Psychiatric Hospital, just outside of Munich, where he remained for the rest of his life. In a 1946 letter, he described his output as the “merely misshapen offspring of ideas that are more or less true.” This belies the fantastical splendor and existential anguish of his work—images from a truly vibrant psyche. The 230 works on display are just a small sampling of the thousands he made. Archival family photos and letters provide further context for this extraordinary intellectual and artist.
Opening the exhibition are nine charcoal drawings with an intensely apocalyptic feel, full of swirling, sinister skies—one is titled The Fall of Babylon, 1930. They’re from before Gabritschevsky’s breakdown and seem to indicate his inability to cope with the world. After his institutionalization, his output becomes stunningly diverse. There are naively articulated bobblehead characters (reminiscent of the melancholic Zoloft blob), architectural cityscapes against dazzling yellow skies, ebullient panoramas glowing under theatrical lights, and assortments of insects, butterflies, and beasts. One untitled and undated monochrome feels like an immersive, rippling pool—a showcase for simple gestural beauty. Gabritschevsky used texture, color, and techniques such as frottage and tachism with prowess, and his folded Rorschach blots are perhaps the only outright indications of his mental-health treatment. This cross-section of Gabritschevsky’s oeuvre is but a peek into a teeming and imaginative alternate universe, an appealing refuge from the burdens of the mid-twentieth century." Sarah Moroz

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