28 July 2019, 11 am

They were born in the same year of 1952 and are both renowned as abstract painters, although these two artists – who have published books at Holzwarth-Publikationen this month – come from backgrounds with hugely difering approaches to abstraction.

Zhang Wei co-wrote the story of contemporary art in China, which developed with staggering speed after the Cultural Revolution, as a member of the legendary No Name Group and a pioneer of abstraction... who at the same time always followed his own path and worked outside of any collective on his unique artistic perspective combining Eastern and Western tendencies. His paintings thrive on a tension between the expressive gesture in abstract expressionism and the quiet force of calligraphic brushstrokes and pure concentration of Chinese ink painting.

Günther Förg proved a similar single-mindedness when he set out as an abstractionist while still a student at the Munich art academy, painting a grey monochrome picture every week. He later developed his work through colourfeld painting and painterly sculptures, distinguishing himself from his friends and peers in the 80s, who mostly painted in a subversively humorous fgurative style. But Förg added his own subversive spirit to abstract art, countering the expressive gesture with immediate and easy brushstrokes and loaded references to the history of modernism.

Both of these new monographs show career-spanning surveys from a special perspective: in Zhang Wei, the focus is set purely on the abstract paintings, his most distinctive genre which evinces the purest form of his life-affirming spirit. Günther Förg: Works from the Friedrichs Collection illustrates an impressive selection of abstract paintings and works on paper, as well as sculptures such as a series of bronze masks and two huge bronze stelae from the collection of Brunhilde and Günther Friedrichs. From this starting point, the book explores the entire artistic world of Förg.

Publisher Hans Werner Holzwarth will introduce the work of these two artists in conjunction with the Zhang Wei exhibition at the Stiftung zur Förderung zeitgenössicher Kunst in Weidingen in the premises of the Günther Förg Library, and speak about the thoughts and concepts that went into the making of these monographs.