Hartwig Ebersbach
Artist, Leipzig / Germany


Cited from a text for the Kultusministerium des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt
[Ministry of Culture of Saxony-Anhalt], November 2002 (Peter Guth).

Hartwig Ebersbach

"Hartwig Ebersbach belongs to the most important agents of gestural-informal
painting of today. Moreover, he has also achieved his position in the art history
after 1945 under very special conditions. Born 1940 in Zwickau (Germany), he
studied between 1959 and 1964 at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig with his
professors Hans Mayer-Foreyt and Bernhard Heisig (fundamentally involved in
establishing a painter’s class in 1960; H.E.) and has become not only a painter,
but also a graphic artist, stage designer, and sculptor.

Between 1979 and 1983, Ebersbach also worked as a lecturer for experimental art
at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. Between 1981 and 1983, he was a member
of the group of experimental artists called "37,2". In 1985, he received the
"Kunstpreis der Künstler Düsseldorf" [Art award of the artists of Duesseldorf].
Furthermore, Ebersbach is a member of several art academies: Akademie der Künste
Berlin [Academy of Arts Berlin], Sächsische Akademie der Künste Dresden [Saxon
Academy of Arts Dresden], and Freie Akademie der Künste zu Leipzig [Free Academy
of Arts Leipzig].

His biographic benchmarks impressively demonstrate that Ebersbach’s position within
the art world of the GDR that battled against the self expression of the individual
was totally antipodal. Ebersbach belongs to the handful of painters who
consequently separated themselves from the doctrine of realism and pushed the
individual into the centre of their work. Stringently, this position has lead to political
conflicts that were sometimes even threatening Ebersbach’s personal existence.
On the other hand, it made him also to one of the leading figures of the young
generation… Ebersbach represented the "other painting" or even more: an
alternative approach towards life and art.

The artistic position of Ebersbach was not at all anchored in the official art world
of the GDR and may be conceived of as singular. However, the international art
scene has relatively quickly recognized his exceptional position. He received, at the
latest in 1982, in the context of the exhibition "Zeitvergleich" [Comparison of time]
international acknowledgement. At the same time, many important museums became
aware of his work (in Germany, for instance, the Nationalgalerie Berlin [National
Gallery Berlin], the Dresdner Kunstsammlungen [Dresden Art Collections], and – with
the most Ebersbach works in public ownership – the Sammlung Ludwig [Collection

Based on the impressive paintings of Kokoschka and Corinth, Ebersbach initially
developed gestural-figural paintings and installations. In 1978, he created for
Friedrich Schenker’s "Kammerspiel II – missa nigra" [intimate play II – missa nigra]
for the first a time stage design. The – up to now – last stage design did he realize
for "Survival Songs" at the Leipzig Opera.

In 1973, Ebersbach’s paintings became more psychologically motivated and were
inspired by Informal, the group COBRA, de Kooning and Ensor. The artistic figure
Kaspar appeared that has to be conceived of as alter ego of the painter himself.
Ebersbach used antique and Christian motives, transformed into contemporary
statements, for sounding the individual state of the soul and to identify personal
positions – often resulting in extensive work complexes, polypticha, and space
installations. Frequently, he implemented dream sequences in his pictures.

In 1992, Ebersbach started to work sculpturally too that was devoted – as his
paintings at that time – to African primitive religions. He engaged in a strengthened
examination of shamanism that – together with foot painting as new technique – in
2000 discharged into the reflection of Etruscan Haruspexes (the rituals of sign
reading in nature). Some rare pictures of the “lightening” series mark the culmination
of the struggle between I and Id, Ebersbach’s bipolar conception of the world that
may be conceived as struggle between the external and internal world or even
between the human and the divine. At the same time, the basic problem of primitive
religions is raised: their desire that nature, which still appears despite all techniques
as unpredictable force, should serve the human being. In this sense, Ebersbach’s
paintings provide many different layers of experience – in accordance with the
different demands of the observer – that leave an enduring impression."

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