KunstHaus Potsdam is presenting the first individual exhibition by the painter Udo Dziersk in Potsdam and Brandenburg. One of its focal points will be new, large-scale works he has created over the past few years, particularly during the period 2020/2021. Dziersk was born in Gelsenkirchen in 1961 and studied painting as a master-class student under Markus Lüpertz in 1988. Since 2002, he has held a professorship at the distinguished Academy of the Arts in Düsseldorf. He has also taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Xi’an (China) as a visiting professor since 2017.

At the heart of paintings by Udo Dziersk are aspects of compilation. Heterogeneous pictorial elements are separated off from their original context, then merged anew on a canvas to create a surprising juxtaposition that places them in new contexts. Everyday items and elements of trivial culture come together with human figures and floral or plant structures while autobiographical experiences are superimposed on both historical references and present-day phenomena. Personal experiences are placed alongside collective memories and the personal comes face-to-face with the general.

Key here is that the references the elements make to one another are equally weighted, that their proportions are assimilated to the extent so that no prevailing hierarchies are discernible. Observers should no longer be capable of decoding the original contexts, and instead his works openly invite onlookers to allow their own associations to flow into new narratives.

The title of the exhibition may also be understood in this way. “Separate areas – different customs” is a sentence fragment that the artist encountered during preparations for the exhibition. It originated during a discussion at the time about holding carnival processions in North Rhine-Westphalia in a way that made them suitable for the pandemic. The idea was that spatially separated regions were to be set up in inner city areas, with separate rules that apply in each. Taken out of its actual context, it is not just the Dadaist potential that this description exhibited; it can also be understood as a humorous way of paraphrasing the artist’s own creative endeavours.

The Udo Dziersk exhibition: “Separate areas – different customs” will be held in the KunstHaus Potsdam as part of the annual topic 2022 FIGURE — BACKGROUND and invites visitors to take a look at this particular aspect of his work. The unusual way the planes are displaced in the image means Dziersk disturbs spatial perception and hence the relationship of the figure to its background. This is done in a way that is clearly separate from the image background, at times becoming blurred both figuratively and abstractly within the image space. The image background itself may be understood in an extended sense as transnational: during numerous journeys, the artist collected impressions of the most varied locations around the world. Places and communities, pictorial traditions and painting techniques are gradually transferred from a sketch to a painting to form one image without any emphasis on geographical or cultural differences. Subsequently, Dziersk not only generates his very own global spaces but also a type of encoded, transnational diary.

Udo Dziersk was born in Gelsenkirchen in 1961 and began his artistic apprenticeship in 1983 at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf where he studied under Gerhard Richter. Following work residencies at the University of the Arts in Berlin with Georg Baselitz and at the Art Academy in Karlsruhe with Per Kirkeby in 1986, Dziersk returned to Düsseldorf in 1988 where he became a master-class student under Markus Lüpertz and in 2002 was appointed the youngest professor at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf. In 2005, Dziersk led a seminar in painting at the Art Academy in Tirana (Albania). There then followed teaching assignments in Penza at the Sawitski Art Academy (2011), the School of Arts and Communication of Beijing Normal University (2014) and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Palermo (2015). From 2014 to 2017, Dziersk was handed teaching assignments at the Academy of Fine Arts in Xi’an, where he has held a visiting professorship since 2017. Dziersk has lived and worked in Wuppertal-Barmen since 1995.

Text: Rahel Schrohe & Ramona Warszawski