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Taschen's Neo Rauch retrospective

Neo Rauch’s work is at once familiar and slightly off, though slightly off shouldn’t be confused with off-putting; His paintings are huge and bright and difficult to tear your eyes away from. Calling his compositions surreal only barely describes them, and besides, Rauch isn’t too fond of the word. The colors he uses and the imagery are reminiscent of old storybooks. People are dressed in all manner of clothing, from Paul Bunyan to the Revolutionary War-era, think lots of men in waistcoats and britches. His landscapes owe a lot to Dali’s desolate, almost post-apocalyptic fantasy worlds, and his proportions are all over the place. Men and women of various sizes operate together on the same plane without clear distinction as to fore or background.

The result is dizzying, maddening, and delirious, the word Taschen uses to describe the 250+ works included in their recently released monograph of Rauch’s work. Whatever descriptive words are used and genres are applied to his work, Rauch’s paintings are not only visually mesmerizing but their narrative voice has the power to still the viewer until he or she has at least attempted to decode the canvas’ machinations, though trying to figure out the plot of his paintings is besides the point. The end result is that you’re simply overcome by the odd draw, the slightly unsettling and strangely personal quality of Rauch’s incredible body of work.

“I have experienced the danger of getting lost in the abstract jungle…At some point I realized that I had to attempt to arrive at a figure. Because apparently I’m a storyteller: I need objective things to reach closer to the poetry of my deems.”