LONDON.- In German-speaking regions the crossover between fine art and comic strip is still regarded as sensitive unlike, for example, in America. There the trenches between High and Low are used in a considerably more productive way. This easy handling may be explained by the absence of a formative tradition of figurative painting in American art history. High culture in this country, as in contemporary art, is still defined by exclusion, which clearly is not an indication of the sovereignty of an intact system.
With these new paintings, which incorporate images of a comic language, Marcus Weber demonstrates lucidly that there is no such crossover problem. Central to the work is the essential hustle and bustle to be found happening in streets and other open air spaces, but such a description sounds far more documentary than the worlds of these paintings actually are. Here, codes of depiction come to life through the radical simplification of this so-called reality, elements of which we recognise in their familiar absurdity. Although rather than adding weight with the escalating intensity of their visual dialogue, this derisory introspection manages to make light. Thus dreary perspectives of the everyday become amusing insights into Berlin life, where the detritus of human activity is categorised according to whether it is pinned to the floor by a wire trash can or carried around in a plastic bag. Populating the multilayered, flat and angled pictorial space of these paintings we find headscarf-wearing women, tourists, cyclists, dogs and not least many small birds, which in Weber's creative universe take the lead role. Following their gaze, the frequently used bird'seye-view allows a privileged perspective into the complex layering of image space and a broad survey of its component parts. Varied and fascinating headgear, adorning his protagonists and resembling Arps bulbs, also anchors the characters halfway between fore and background to cleverly deliver a graphic as well as narrative engagement with these highly contextualised images.
The pictorial arrangements in Weber's scenes also work as an updated tradition of genre painting, but without the moral impetus, and when taken in this context such absurdities show little remorse. Perhaps faint glimmers of Kaethe Kollwitzs moral code shine through, albeit slightly caricatured, but the work of George Grosz and Otto Dix is far closer to Webers position, even though he is less concerned with strict social critique. Irritating ambivalence expressed through extreme naivety allows for this, as some may recognise in the Dusseldorf Gruppe Normal or the Neue Deutsche Welle band Der Plan. One must however, not neglect his cunning painterly method, most apparent in the brilliantly patterned backgrounds, the style of which reflects that of Matisse, Polke, the inevitable Pollock and even the bedding designs of a well-known Swedish furniture store.
Original text by Gunter Reski
(English interpretation by Jane Carroll)