Home Magazine A universal vocabulary: Gerd Mackensen’s artist production

German painter and graphic artist Gerd Mackensen investigates human nature and social issues through ironic and satirical compositions that can be universally understood, and wise use of colours and lines.

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Gerd Mackensen was born in 1949 in Nordhausen, a small town on the edge of the Harz Mountains. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden and started earning his first money with cartoons and creating many linocuts and etchings, some of which were painted over. 
Until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, for him as for many other artists, dedicating oneself to art meant living in a parallel world even though still imprisoned in the political system of the GDR. Anyway, here they have the possibility to create for themselves free, autonomous spaces where they could express themselves and their ideals on an artistic and critical level. Growing up in this context was essential for Gerd Mackensen's personal artistic development and meant that his artistic vocabulary could be read and understood by many. 

Gerd Mackensen, Anger, 2020, courtesy of Galerie Profil Weimar

For almost five decades, Mackensen has been one of the most important artists in East Germany. He is a simple man, he loves reading and spends quiet time in his studio; he is deeply attached to his homeland, from which he never stays too far. The simple purpose of his life is drawing, painting, and modelling. 

His vast pictorial and especially graphic production bears an unmistakable signature. Gerd Mackensen is a magician of colours and the observer sinks into the nuances of his paintings and becomes intoxicated by them. He is a talented draughtsman and some of his figurative inventions seem to float in the air or on water. His pictorial compositions always reveal a familiar reality, thus creating a fruitful tension between lived reality and artistic creation. In his works, Gerd Mackensen stages the experience and pleasure of life, showing us 'the unbearable lightness of being', which amounts to walking the tightrope between seriousness and irony.  He deals with social issues, observes people's behaviour with a keen eye, and asks questions, he is both funny and ironic and is a virtuoso of paper and screen. 

Gerd Mackensen, Fantasia, 2022, courtesy of Galerie Profil Weimar

Although Mackensen hardly ever works outdoors, his works are filled with references to reality and nature. These elements are used as compositional supports and are often taken from his drawn books. The painting process is then triggered by the artist's own gestures and the materials he chooses to use: often, it is thanks to a happy coincidence that a common path is delineated at the moment of the act of painting, giving sense and concreteness to the work. In this creative process, photography comes into its own as a means of transport and luminous images, then partially repainted, flow into the composition.

Gerd Mackensen, Ruegen, 2016, courtesy of Galerie Profil Weimar

Gerd Mackensen is an established artist known far beyond the borders of Thuringia and a wide circle of collectors and art lovers appreciate his paintings. Moreover, many of his works are exposed in museums and belong to private collections.

Check out all of Gerd Mackensen’s artworks on Kooness!

Cover image: Gerd Mackensen, over the hills, 2019, courtesy of Galerie Profil Weimar

Written by Galerie Profil Weimar

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