Passionate about art and artistic expression, German artist and Art historian Richard Reuys combines theory and practice to create a resonant visual language that reflects many of the contemporary societal and cultural issues. As a commentary on literature, religion, gender, sexuality or politics, his works provoke thought and evoke allusions to some of his artistic heroes who, also, made a stand on many of the same topics in history. We find elements reminiscent of Basquiat, Richter, Pollock or Beuys in Reuys’ work, although here they are reshaped, having taken on a new life, pertinent to a different and new cultural atmosphere. Chromatically and formally strong, these pieces are designed to move and engage, making us reflect our own stances on said issues.
This November, Richard Reuys will be taking part in the first Discovery Art Fair in Frankfurt and we’ve been fortunate to talk to him about his work and ask him to present it to our readers.
As an eclectic artist, Richard Reuys works in many different media. He combines techniques and uses them in concordance with the idea, following both his impulses and his conscious thought. “That depends on the work,” he says and continues, “Getting into such a flow is pure creative energy. In other cases, like when I created “Threat“ for example, I know and feel which media to use from the very start because I have an exact perception of how the work should look.”
The Love of Strong Color
Speaking about the strong color in his works, the artist is honest “I love strong color because it attracts my attention.” We find out more right after, as he continues with a more personal story “I grew up in the 1980‘s and 90‘s when neon colors were very popular, and I started to love them very early. Neon colors always come with a fresh, young spirit, they are part of my works DNA and I use them deliberately to delimit my work from the works of artists like Gerhard Richter and to be seen and recognized.”
“I especially love (neon)pink. In the 80’s and 90’s I often used to wear pink accessories like pink wristbands or pink caps. And I remember another thing. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, just before my puberty, I used to visit my grandparents for once or twice a week. In their attic, they stored some toys and other interesting stuff. And one day, when I was searching for something up there, I found some erotic magazines. One of them had a focus on black women. To me, their vaginas had a remarkable bright shining pink color, amongst others because of the contrast to the color of their skin, and I just wasn‘t able to avert my eyes from them. I was impressed by the appearance, of how beautiful the combination of these strong colors looked. So I hid the magazine under my jacket when we left our grandparents home to take it with me secretly. That was the only time in my life I stole anything.”
On Politics, Society and Art
Along with his vibrant palette, we’ve touched the issues Reuys tackles in his work. From personal to political, his interests are rather versatile. “I want to show what moves me emotionally,” he says and describes how everything is connected with everything else in his mind, social and spiritual topics alike. “If I take a newspaper, for example, it‘s split into categories like politics, economy, culture and so on. But none of these categories can be viewed isolated from each other, they all are interdependent. Political decisions affect the economy, the social life, the environment et cetera vice versa. One thing can’t be thought without the other.”
Throughout his work, Reuys deliberates the effects of the current culture, emphasizing its postmodern, but also fusing nature. “We all are the results of our experiences and socialization. All that reflects more or less conscious in our thinking, feeling and doing. In history, the styles of art changed many times and one era was often a revolution compared to its predecessor. Many painters were too progressive for their time and their art rejected firstly. Mankind and artists today can hear back to the millennia-old knowledge of art and culture. And that reflects automatically in contemporary art.”
“I like and deeply respect artists for creating their own unique handwriting in their work. But I love it if I visit an exhibition and see an interesting painting that I don‘t implicate to a painters handwriting at first sight and the artist surprises me in that way. Artists like Damien Hirst are a good example of that versatility in my opinion.
I think if we have such a comprehensive treasure trove of experience and have had all the different eras that revolutionized and evolutionized art, I don‘t want to limit myself, my thinking and my way of creating art. However, below the line,, I formed two principal directions of how I create art. One way is the subconscious way I already described. And the second stream is based on striking messages with quite reduced production. And sometimes the two ways come together and synthesize in one work. From the artistic point of view, I really prefer the abstract style. But sometimes I consider it best to use concrete presentations.”
Still, Reuys is very adoptive of the new views on what is contemporary and what the art of our era brings, as he proceeds to tell us about his practice.
“I think contemporary art is about relieving art from categories and relieving artists from constant handwritings. We should reflect our thinking about art and should ask ourselves if we give contemporary art the freedom it deserves or needs to evolve.”
A Powerful Message in Every Piece
“One of art‘s missions is to mirror the present and to call people‘s attention to grievances. That for example is what I intended to achieve with my work “Threat“. Threat emerged from the Weinstein et cetera conundrum and supports the #metoo movement. The combination of gun and penis is a symbol for the exploitation of positions of power and the omnipresent threat created by men‘s virility and aggression.
Another example of how my work reflects the current culture is the painting “The refugee“, that I created in 2016. The refugees that came across Europe, caused by the war in Syria were a daily topic in the German news. Two years later the fate of the refugees is still misused by right-wing parties all over Europe for right-wing populism. “Shitholes and Stripes“ is inspired by the President of the USA.
The collage “Money Talks“ shows the Chinese flag featuring Yuan Symbols instead of the usual stars. This is inspired by the fact that the Chinese Government supports Chinese Companies to “buy knowledge“ from all over the world. Chinese companies invested more than 12 Billion Euros last year to purchase German Engineering companies and their century-old knowledge about Engineering and the industry 4.0. This is how China is managing to make „Made in China“ the eminently respectable “Made in Germany“ of the future.”
While he works on several pieces at one time in general, his current activities are focused on a painting called “Brünnhilde X”, part 2 of a planned large triptych that will span across an area of 450 x 200 cm. Part 1 named “Siegfried X” is already complete, but we wait to see how this work unravels. Along with medium format paintings, the artist is looking forward to returning to sculpture in 2019, as he hasn’t worked in it for a while.
For the upcoming Discovery Art Fair in Frankfurt, Reuys is planning to show 5 large size paintings, “Siegfried X”, “Brünnhilde X”, “Untitled 18-1”, “Threat” and “In Utero”. With all of them created in 2018, they promise a perfect overview of his most recent practice.
Following Frankfurt, Richard Reuys is planning to move to a larger studio to accommodate bigger formats of his works, and finally – he is looking to partner up with a gallery in the near future.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see the latest works by Richard Reuys this November in Frankfurt and continue to follow his activities in the months to come!