Ben Willikens

Space as an Image

For over four decades, the painted and graphic artist, Ben Willikens, born 1939 in Leipzig, has used his work to sound out the historical and metaphorical dimensions of space.

Drawing on clinically cool interiors, he traced the rhetoric of constructed space across unpeopled variations of the Last Supper, tectonic antitheses and through to the buildings of National Socialism. Located between the poles of objective claustrophobia and light-saturated "metaphysics of space" (Heinrich Klotz),  the grey interiors and vedutas by Ben Willikens are more than architectural images. Instead, they recreate topics and traditions of constructivism in a fictive three-dimensionality that throws open a playing field for the observer's imagination.

The exhibition "Space as an Image" follows the emergence and development of this work concept using examples from roughly forty years. Among them, a large number of current works confirm more recent trends in Willikens' work that accentuate pictorial and colourful aspects and that integrate photography.

Due to his unbroken concentration on an unmistakable conceptual topic, Ben Willikens cannot be assigned to any school or a stylistic group, and remains instead "the grand solitaire" (Carl-Friedrich Schröer) in post-war German painting.