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Marcus Reichert

Marcus Reichert is a painter and a poet who has also worked in film. Reichert was given his first exhibition of paintings at the age of twenty-one at the legendary Gotham Book Mart and Art Gallery, New York, home to the Surrealists during WWII.

In 1990, Marcus Reichert was honoured with a retrospective organised by the Hatton Gallery of the University of Newcastle which toured in various forms to Glasgow, London, Paris, and the United States. His Crucifixion paintings have been described by Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, as being among the most dis- turbing painted in the 20th Century, while the American critic Donald Kuspit has written that both Picasso’s and Bacon’s pale in comparison. The first neo-noir, Reichert’s film UNION CITY (amazon), which premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, was hailed by Lawrence O’Toole, film critic for Time Magazine, as “an unqualified masterpiece.” His film works are held in the Archive of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Marcus Reichert is the author of three novels, including the cult classic Verdon Angster. His most recent book is ART & EGO: Marcus Reichert in conversation with Edward Rozzo. Reichert: The Human Edifice by Mel Gooding, with 100 photographs by the artist in colour.

Read this artist's biography

Marcus_2 001Marcus Reichert  is a painter and a poet, like Antonin Artaud and Jean Cocteau before him, who knows no boundaries. He was given his first exhibition of paintings at the age of twenty-one at the legendary Gotham Book Mart and Art Gallery, New York, home to the Surrealists during WWII. In 1990, he was honoured with a retrospective organized by the Hatton Gallery of the University of Newcastle which toured in various forms to Glasgow, London, Paris, and the United States. His Crucifixion paintings have been described by Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford (England), as being among the most disturbing painted in the 20th Century, while the American critic Donald Kuspit has written that both Picasso’s and Bacon’s pale in comparison.

The first neo-noir, Reichert’s film UNION CITY, which premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, was hailed by Lawrence O’Toole, film critic for Time Magazine, as “an unqualified masterpiece.” His film works are held in the Archive of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is the author of three novels, including the cult classic Verdon Angster, and his writing has been featured internationally in numerous journals and collections. Reichert: The Human Edifice by Mel Gooding, with 100 photographs by the artist in colour, is published by Artmedia Press, London. Displaced Person: Poetry, Pornography & Politics (Selected Writings 1970-2005) and Art & Ego: Marcus Reichert in Conversation with Edward Rozzo are published by Ziggurat Books, London.

Marcus Reichert lives and works in the south of France.

Marcus Reichert on Painting

Excerpts from

ART & EGO: Marcus Reichert in Conversation with Edward Rozzo

Published by Ziggurat Books International, London & Paris (2007),

“ Although I cherish the sensual attributes of painting, I am most interested in painting that is a spiritual pursuit, no matter how subliminally. I believe that as such painting serves to refresh the viewer, it has the capability of bringing submerged realms of sensation back into focus. How this is achieved is really anyone’s guess, so there is an atavistic aspect to painting that runs counter to other more technologically evolved forms of expression, like photography, like cinema. It is an altogether elusive medium, while being confoundingly physical at the same time. As regards its transcendent qualities, painting is like making a new language with the blood of past generations. ”

“ Each time a painting is made, the possibilities are limitless, whereas while the possibilities inherent in other media may also be limitless, they are nevertheless subject to the strictures of reality in its plasticity. In essence, painting is a manifestation of one’s belief in the paradox of true expression. Obviously, a painting can be a literal description of something, but this is not nearly so interesting as an evocation. Evocation suits the medium in its viscosity and its fluidity. It would seem proven by history that painting is invaluable to mankind, at least to mankind as we have known it. Possessing paintings of a sublimely inspirational nature, no matter how confounding, has become central to the mythos of both public and private institutions, i.e. museums and corporations. One is tempted to suppose that the world has found an alternative to traditional religious iconography. ”

“ The sort of painting I’m interested in is vulnerable, just as the painter is vulnerable and fallible. ”

“ On the one hand, painting is a sensual pursuit, on the other, it is an avowedly intimate revealing of one’s self. What I mean is that making a painting – the kind I make ¾ is a kind of stripping away of the thick skin we develop to survive in a world increasingly uninterested in dignified personal revelation ¾ poetry, if you will. That stripping away, in psychological terms, can be just as violent as the world is violent. It occurs to me that this is an equation of sorts. So when you ask how exactly my painting is psychologically referential the answer must be, as Jackson Pollock says, that the painting is a living manifestation of not only what I might reveal but also what the viewer brings to it. ” *

“If I sense the picture is becoming about something, I try to understand what that might be ¾ often by carrying on painting. Suddenly an image might strike me as rather melancholy, or menacing, or, in its diversity of signals, perplexing ¾ it’s then that I begin to appreciate the psychology at work in that particular painting, not before. For me, it’s essential that the evolution of the image is a mystery, an unfolding mystery, even if the image is something as simple as an empty vase on a table.”*

“I don’t judge what I do by someone else’s system of values, I judge what I do by studying the work and reasoning with myself. How could anyone possibly achieve anything interesting or original by adhering to someone else’s idea of what is worthwhile, even acceptable? The economic grinder can be very destructive. Economic success, which I’m obviously not at all opposed to, encourages imitation of both one’s own work and the work of other economically successful artists. Certainly, I take inspiration from other painters and poets but the majority of them are dead and therefore, to my way of thinking, sacrosanct and beyond imitation. They may be archetypes but they are benign. As we re-enforce our own identity, we drift farther and farther away from what is known, and what is known to be acceptable in the marketplace. We risk catastrophe but occasionally the rewards can be exceptional. Isolation is quite often not a bad thing. ”

“I don’t think being interesting puts me outside the realm of objective thinking. Perhaps I’m less inclined to adhere to or respect a formulaic approach to making images. In other words, I don’t trust what someone else tells me has been proven to affect the viewer in a particular way. I don’t believe the experience of a visual work of art can be controlled in this way. However, what worries me is the stereotyping and imitation of powerful images which are in themselves too mysterious for this sort of political or economic manipulation. I believe we have to remain at a certain remove to have any clear or compelling idea of what’s going on.”

“I watch people in my studio, I see how they react to something alien to their everyday lives. I wait for the atmosphere to envelope them, I wait for the viewer to be possessed by some strange sensation. When I walk into another artist’s studio, I experience the same thing. The same transforming sensation. Occasionally, nothing happens, but usually there is something about the thought circulating in that place that either penetrates my own thinking or that I reject. It’s about being pervaded, perhaps even consumed by another sensibility. It’s a marvellous thing to experience, especially when it’s your own work that is generating this sequence of revelations. I think people who are serious about experiencing visual art are willing to momentarily leave themselves behind. For me, there is too much art that flatters the viewer with his presence on the earth, with his importance as judge and jury in the artworld melodrama. I like to think that my pictures require a kind of selflessness to be appreciated.”

*Conversation from the Margins, Displaced Person: Poetry, Pornography & Politics, Marcus Reichert, Ziggurat Books, London, 2006 as reproduced in ART & EGO: Marcus Reichert in Conversation with Edward Rozzo , Ziggurat Books International, London & Paris, 2007

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