Löwentraut beim Malen
©Leon Löwentraut

01.12.2023 - 28.01.2024

Leon LöwentrautErnst Barlach Award 2023

By awarding the Ernst Barlach Prize 2023 to Leon Löwentraut, Ernst Barlach Gesellschaft Hamburg indicates it's time for a change of perspective.

Barlach Kunstmuseum Wedel

Leon Löwentraut

Ernst Barlach Award 2023

Since 1995, the Ernst Barlach Gesellschaft has awarded the Ernst Barlach Prize for Fine Arts at various intervals to draw attention to particularly innovative artistic positions.

Leon Löwentraut was born on 15 February 1998 in Kaiserslautern and now lives in Düsseldorf. His works and his strongly media-based public communication have so far received hardly any attention from conventional art critics. By awarding the Ernst Barlach Prize 2023 to Leon Löwentraut, Ernst Barlach Gesellschaft Hamburg indicates it's time for a change of perspective.

  • abstraktes Gemälde

    Untitled, Acryl auf Leinwand, 120 x 175 cm, 2019

Leon Löwentraut shows modern people in all their isolation and fragmentation. At the same time, he turns this very human being into a great mystery. His depictions of robotic figures seem like messages from a distant, mysterious world. They are apocalyptic and utopian at the same time, oscillating between gestural, representational, abstract, ornamental and provocatively explosive in colour.

With its contradictory promise of uniqueness, Löwentraut stages his art as part of virtual reality. At the same time, he exaggerates the public nature of the private sphere in live acts and social media campaigns. He plays with the idea that the supposedly unique, genuine and authentic is itself only a construction and that his art alone is perhaps a last, desirable shelter. In it, the figures often appear distracted and fleeting, grotesque and clumsy, fragile, delicate and often fearful.

Löwentraut's figures are trapped in a flood of images, signs and symbols that restrict their ability to move and escape. They often seem like masked lonely people in a crowded room. This feeling of loneliness in the midst of complexity is the starting point for Leon Löwentraut's artistic work. In doing so, he touches a nerve of the present and inspires younger people in particular with his art.

  • Löwentraut beim Malen

Of course, Löwentraut is also steeped in an artistic and aesthetic heritage that all young artists have to face up to. There's always a tradition that comes through, the only question is how to not only overcome traditions, but how to reinterpret them.

The Abstract Expressionism of Willem de Kooning, for example, was characterised in particular by a gestural-expressive style. His works were always an exploration of abstraction and the constantly changing arrangement of human figures in the process of dissolution. He elevated the incompleteness of the individual picture to an important principle. And so Leon Löwentraut's paintings sometimes appear strangely unfinished, often sketchy, as if interrupted in the middle of the painting process, suggesting that the artist will perhaps continue working on the work tomorrow or leave its completion entirely to the viewer.

Exhibition opening and award ceremony:

Friday, 1 December 2023 at 7 pm.