Contemporary Art (4) – Burkhard Held

Flicking through the last issue of ARTFORUM I came across this not known to me German painter. Burkhard Held (b. 1953) lives and works in Berlin. He’s been exhibiting persistently and widely for the last few decades.

His “Roter Berg” from 2008 – oil on canvas, conventional size, yet another application of the neo-expressionist language. Yet, it has the potential to catch the attention, not merely due to the exuberant, affirmative palette which looks confident comparing to many other propositions from the same trend. The portrayed scape conveys the impression of stability, self-assurance despite of the patchy construction and nervously wobbly marks – the imposed, inner discipline puts a form and an order on this would-be pictorial anarchy.

Held’s work seems to explore the phenomena of a form and formlessness, integrity and a collapse, an existence and a hypothesis – and while some of his paintings appear to be deliberately suspended on the verge of ‘melting down’ (in a very fashionable today pictorial ‘explosion’ of shapes, spaces, meanings) there is a struggle to be appreciated – a fight for a structure and a sense; which both remain an endangered species in the contemporary art in general and in painting in particular.


To see artist’s page (in German) – Burkhard Held

Till February 21st, 2009 Michael Schultz Gallery in Berlin hosts the exhibition of the latest paintings of this artist.

Art Forum International is a well-edited monthly magazine featuring tens of oncoming and current art exhibitions and shows from around the world. Recommended to buy from time to time for the record-value, to visit online – ARTFORUM.


About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

11 responses to “Contemporary Art (4) – Burkhard Held

  • Hans

    Hi, maybe you like the painter Strawalde (Jürgen Böttcher) as well.
    He counts as the mentor of A.R.Penck, he made also films. You find lots of works here:

    Bio in German here:ürgen_Böttcher

    Best regards, Hans

  • Hans

    Sorry, my first comment seems not published:

    Maybe you’ll like the works by Strawalde (Jürgen Böttcher) as well, who counts as the mentor of A.R.Penck and was also a film maker: Lots of images here: and a German info on Wikipedia:ürgen_Böttcher

    Best regards, Hans

  • skonieczna

    Great Hans, thanks.
    German art has that physical emotionality about it, that air of urgency, confidence, power, spirit. Do you think that expressionism in its “epigone aesthetics” as I would call some of the neo-expressionist paintings is going to transform, to progress or – maybe – it will slowly eat its own tail?

  • Hans

    I think Expressionism will always remain, it’s a tool any artist can use. Van Gogh was expressionistic, Dix, Kirchner was, Beckmann was, Picasso was often, Mattisse, Baselitz is, I am at times are 😉

    A good example is Rainer Fetting from the 80s Neue Wilde, the movement isn’t maybe anymore, but the paintings, if they are good, remain, and he still paints great images. It’s not about the tools an artist uses, but about the quality of the result, at least for me.

  • skonieczna

    Expressive tendency is probably as old as the art itself (one can perceive some of the cave paintings as being ‘expressionist’ in style). But I mean the particular art movement/trend which dominates more or less an art stage (or painting) in a particular period. You’ve got Expressionism (known as “German”) in the 20s of the last century and you’ve got the second wave of so-called Neo-Expressionism in late 70s, 80s of the last century. Many artists would name themselves as being part of the movement. I’m confused what is going on now, mainly in painting – because if the language used is evidently that of (Neo) Expressionism no one is claiming “the great return”, the new wave of the trend. How would you name (if you had to do this) the predominant (if you see any) way of expression in painting now?

  • Hans


    of course, the Expressionist existed always, it is in every drawing of any children.

    We still live in the world of “Pomo” what an ugly term ;-)), where anything goes, good and bad, and great and low brow and a big mix of what is possible, and that creates all the time new images, like see on our blog the new works by Brock Neilson, here:

    On the “POMO” topic are some good related articles at

    and see also this Animation from 1951 mentioned here:

    BTW Mark Stone from HenriMag and his gang making great contemporary images as well, like here:

    Do you see a particular new expressionist movement ? Where ?

    It’s also good to read the writings by Clement Greenberg, a huge admirer is Franklin Einspruch, search on his blog on those topics:

    But the question is, if we are not in POMO anymore maybe, and in what direction we go ?

    Best regards, Hans

  • skonieczna

    Your last question hits my point and is the cause of my confusion, because I sense, that perhaps my generation – having Postmodernism (I prefer traditional term, POMO makes the phenomenon sound even more bizarre and esoteric that it is in its very nature) in our blood, we are already fed up with it. The new millennium – due to the simple magic of the of numbers and perhaps because of the ideological and artistic (in majority) bankruptcy of Postmodernity cries out for a fresh, alternative interpretation of our times. Even if we are meant to do the first, clumsy or incorrect step for the future generations – it’s still better than just to support something you don’t believe in by your silent compliance. Thanks for the links – the cartoon says it all: ” That’s strange,all of sudden I don’t feel quite like myself” says the mercilessly mutilated ‘victim’. More or less, we – children of our present time are bound to feel just like this from time to time…
    P.S. Your comment was sent to Spam. Sorry about this…

  • Hans

    Aha, ;-)) it was handled as Spam, Art Spam !

    I reply later, now away to a Party (at least this is something stable in the Art World ;-)) Best regards, Hans

  • Hans

    Art is finished for a while I predict, it does not create any new true value.

    Please post one Contemporary work, of what you think it will be remain important still in 40 years.

    Lets make a contest and try to find such works… if it makes any sense for you.

  • skonieczna

    Sure, I’m thinking hard… My next post from the “Contemporary Art” series will feature my choice… Party? Great to know that someone out of Europe (West) and US is having fun when flirting with art…

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