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  • From: 25 may 2019
  • Through: 01 september 2019
  • Location: Museum de Fundatie

Michael Triegel - Discordia concors

The paintings of Michael Triegel (b. 1968) catapult us back in time. His body of work looks like it was created in the early European Renaissance, but on closer inspection it really is contemporary. It is a celebration of pure figurative painting, with classic religious and profane motifs, but Triegel also gives it an entirely new look. From 25 May to 1 September 2019 Museum de Fundatie will be showing paintings and works on paper by Michael Triegel in Discordia Concors (harmony in discord).

From 1990 to 1997 Michael Triegel studied at the renowned Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (Academy of Fine Arts) in Leipzig, where he was taught by Arno Rink and Ulrich Hachulla. The academy is closely associated with the Neue Leipziger Schule (New Leipzig School), a movement in German art that arose following the fall of the Berlin Wall, of which Neo Rauch is the most important representative. The members of this association largely use the same figurative form language, though they vary widely in terms of their technique. Having grown up in the secular GDR, Triegel converted to Christianity after the Bishop of Regensburg commissioned him to paint a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. The portrait brought Triegel international fame.

Michael Triegel, Theophany, 2017, mixed media on canvas, 121 x 80 cm, private collection, © Pictoright Amsterdam 2019, Photo: Galerie Schwind.

In terms of their subject matter and execution, the paintings of Michael Triegel are imbued with the atmosphere of the early Renaissance. He works in the style of the old masters, applying layer upon layer with a very refined technique that makes his ability to depict fabric unparalleled. His paintings look like altarpieces – it is no coincidence that he often receives commissions from the church – but at the same time there is something alienating and surreal about them. He does not glorify his motifs, but strips them of any form of devotion.

Michael Triegel, Selfportrait, 2016, mixed media on board, 70 x 45 cm, collection Fritz P. Mayer Frankfurt am Main | Leipzig, © Pictoright Amsterdam 2019, Photo: Galerie Schwind.

Since the crucifixion, the annunciation, Leda and the swan and Orpheus and Eurydice are so familiar to us, they seem like obvious subjects, but nothing could be further from the truth here. Triegel raises questions and sows confusion. In his Last Supper (1994), for example, Christ does not sit among his disciples, he sits alone at the table. His face has been rendered unrecognisable and the holy scene is set in front of a black stage backdrop. In Persephone and Orpheus (2012) a beautiful naked Persephone, queen of the underworld, stares helplessly at the viewer. A red thread connects two animal skulls and a mannequin – could it be Eurydice? – and Orpheus, as if it is not the goddess but fate that decides over life and death.

Michael Triegel, Persephone and Orpheus, 2012, mixed media on board, 200 x 110 cm, Museum Barberini Potsdam, © Pictoright Amsterdam 2019, Photo: Galerie Schwind.

Transience and beauty blend seamlessly in Michael Triegel’s work, not only in his large thematic pieces, but also in still lifes, as in Orbis pictus (2016), for example, in which a beautifully arranged bunch of flowers is combined with a statue of the Virgin, an antique typewriter and two skinned sheep’s heads. Triegel’s strength lies in linking a familiar iconography to this day and age in a provocative game of recognition and confusion.

Michael Triegel, Portrait of Pope Benedict XVI, 2010, mixed media on board, 100,5 x 76 cm, Institut Papst Benedikt XVI, Regensburg, © Pictoright Amsterdam 2019, Photo: Galerie Schwind.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Angermuseum in Erfurt, where it can be seen until 17 February 2019. The German catalogue has been published by Hirmer Verlag, and contains essays by Matthias Bormuth, Horst Bredekamp, Joseph Haslinger and Kai-Uwe Schierz.


  • From: 25 May 2019
  • Through: 01 Sep 2019
  • Location: Museum de Fundatie

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