Sid Gastl (born 1955) Sid Gastl’s landscapes are effective because of their unusual perspective. They are painted crooked, they are seen from above, and they portray only small extracts with little detail and with the horizon missing. The sky traditionally imparts a feeling of expansiveness and space in landscape painting; but here it is circumcised, destroying the freedom of the roaming eye. Illusionary space in the surface of the picture is withheld. In this respect, Gastl is part of the anti-illusionary tradition which began with Cézanne, Manet and Degas. One has the impression of flying low over the scene yet likewise of standing in front of a colourful canvas. Contemplatively and leisurely viewing the work, as is the tradition with landscape painting, is no longer an option. Instead, one has to use a practical and penetrating glare as if determining what there is in this place where hedges and trees normally prevent onlookers from peering into private spheres. Shacks, silos, poplars, greenhouses, telephone poles, barns and blocks of flats are scattered about in the urban sprawl. They cast dark shadows. The unnatural illumination seems to come from floodlights. The shadows are connected with the secondary, with the indirect and with dependence. They are considered to be negative and have always been associated with disaster and death. The atmosphere in Gastl’s paintings is frightening and threatening not only because it is always night or twilight—as was the case with Aert van der Neer (1606–77)—but because it seems like someone is being followed; but he is hiding—there is no one present. The stillness of the barren, deserted extracts of landscape increase the feeling of drama. Just as in a film, one expects that something will happen at any moment. For Gastl, who could be considered a «new realist», nightmarish content plays an important role, although in his most recent pictures it has faded into a shadowy lack of detail. His formats here are large and calculated in such a way that the viewer has the feeling that he could enter the picture and like a thief find himself in front of assumed entrances to locked houses—all the more suggestive because we are in the position of thieves by night. There is a feeling of criminal suspense. With little effort, uncanniness has been created. These paintings are realistic because they can be associated with real feelings of flight and pursuit, of burglary an d attack, and thus with violence per se. However, the paintings seem strangely removed, almost like memories. This alienation is not a technical method which belatedly veils detailed perceptions. It is the approximate result of the process of memory, itself—of internal perception. And it is this approximation which makes the threat seem more real. Burkhard Brunn


Geboren 1955 in Nürnberg, lebt in München /
2003 Stiftung Kunstfonds: Arbeitsstipendium / 2001 Förderpreis der Landeshauptstadt München für Bildende Kunst / 1978 – 86 Studium Malerei an der Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Nürnberg (Meister-schüler)

Exhibitions (selection)
2003 Galerie Six Friedrich & Lisa Ungar, München (Beteiligung); »Rondo«, Galerie M+R Fricke, Berlin; »StadtLandFluss«, Galerie der Künstler, München (Beteiligung) / 2002 Ankäufe, Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen Cottbus (Beteiligung); Sommerpalais, Düsseldorf (Beteiligung) / 2001 »Förderpreisvorschläge 2001«, Städtische Galerie Lothringer Straße; Galerie M+R Fricke, Berlin; »Das Flache Land« Zur Ästhetik einer unspektakulären Sichtweise, Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen Cottbus (Beteiligung) / 2000 Galerie Six Friedrich & Lisa Ungar, München; »Malen … «, Galerie M+R Fricke, Berlin und Düsseldorf (Beteiligung)

Hecke, 2002
Öl auf Nessel, 200 cm x 140 cm
(Courtesy M + R Fricke, Düsseldorf/Berlin)