Gunther Langer feels himself philosophically connected to the so called “Enigmatic Realism”.
The paintings are full of life and tangible, that means “realistic” (therefore it is called realism). On the other hand the paintings must not be sensualized only but subjectually experienced- otherwise they are not an art-experience at all, no enigmatic realism.
The second aspect of each art experience is the expected exception, the aesthetic perception extraordinaire, something desirable. The ideal is associated with the perception of individual aesthetics, with sensual pleasure. But it leaves space for ideas and something mysterious- something no words can describe. There is no complete interpretation- something always remains “enigmatically”.
Christine Kunkler, LDX Artodrome Galerie
He is one of the few people who still can draw. The way he uses the pencil is unique. Artists usually start drawing with short, careful lines, trying to find the ideal one. This cautious approach is taught.
Gunter Langer draws differently.His lines are drawn through without lifting the pencil. They are shaped with an exeptional sense for the character and for the expression of his motif. Of cause lines drawn this way can also fail. At first Gunter Langer threw them uncompromisingly away. Corrections were out of question. A consequence of this firm attitude was, that a number of promising beginnings were lost. Therefore Gunter Langer has started to save certain pieces of work. If he can realize his intented composition with only small corrections, he will give it a second try. Gunter is totally aware that creativity is a gift, that has to be handled with care. There are some days when absolutely nothing works out. Hardly a single line succeeds. Even in this case, he doesn’t throw anything away immediately. If something can’t be corrected, he puts it aside as a warning and Gunter tries it all over again. But there are creative days as well. Art works with great expressive power emerge from a few lines only. What looks like effortlessness is the result of years of practice and an exceptional talent.
“You got your skill from the Hegenbarths.” A sentence from Langer’s childhood. His grandmother told him that his grandfather was a distant relative of the famous Josef Hegenbarth, praising him when she watched him draw. At that time, Gunter Langer didn’t know what she meant. It only dawned on him later on, because relatives used to say that Joseph Hegenbarth was always messing around with a pencil or crayon outside the studio too. He had a habit of conjuring up vivid animal figures on the edges of any available newspaper with a just few quick lines. This was the way of drawing that Gunter Langer intuitively discovered for himself too. The artist believes that without his “Hegenbarth gene” he would never have made it so far.
The rest is work; finding the right line in one go calls for constant training, otherwise the gift will be lost. Langer compares himself to musicians who have to practice every single day if they want to retain their virtuosity. And he quotes the world-famous violinist Igor Oistrach, the son and pupil of the legendary David Oistrach: “If I don’t practice for one day, my father notices it. If I don’t practice for two days, I notice it myself. And if I don’t practice for a whole week, the public notices it too.” Gunter Langer scribbles on a lot of paper, even the edges of newspapers if needs be, so that he can face the public, and above all himself …
Gunter Langer shunned the use of paints for many years. When he first began using them in 2007 he was already a seasoned graphic artist. He was quickly fascinated by the secrets of this new medium, its endless possibilities. Since then he has been exploring the interaction of different colours with an ardent curiosity. He gets his inspiration from all eras of painting. He has a particular interest in Goya, for example. “The way the old master painted skin tones, for example, remains fascinating and exceptionally instructive to this day.” He brings the long-forgotten colour composition teachings of the Dresden School back to life, experimenting with different techniques and materials. Langer is permanently searching for new ways to express himself, always wanting to surprise people. “My goal is not to develop a personal style. I believe that this means standstill,” he admits. This means that he is constantly adding new dimensions to his drawing talent.
“Sophie” – one of Gunter Langer’s first works in colour, in acryl. This portrait from 2010 is particularly close to the artist’s heart. When a potential buyer approached him one day during an exhibition, he spontaneously turned the offer down. He did not want to relinquish the picture. But the customer, a New York art lover, was relentless. After Gunter Langer finally agreed to the sale with a heavy heart, the collector invited Langer to visit him in New York. What the artist saw there, consoled him for the loss. Because his very own “Sophie” was in the best of company – alongside works by Picasso, Kokoschka and Feininger.
“This nude started out as a horror trip,” remembers Gunter Langer. He had the idea of painting a picture that can be viewed in three ways: in daylight, under UV light and with an afterglow in complete darkness. The problem is that the colours change with the light. Titanium white, for example, becomes black in UV light. This means that translucent spots painted in white that give the picture a luminous intensity in daylight turn into horrible dark spots under UV light. If Langer corrected the picture under UV light he would ruin the daylight picture. And if he then corrected this again, he would once again destroy the UV picture. “Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And things got decidedly worse until I figured out how to do it.” The work of art is now not just an attractive female nude. Its technical presentation under changing light is a real highlight in exhibitions.
“Morning Dew” was produced for an exhibition entitled “Der Reiz der Grazien” (The Allure of the Graces). The curator wanted large formats. A new challenge for Gunter Langer, because the bigger the picture, the more difficult it is for him to apply his special technique of shaping lines in a single stroke. The change to a large format for him was like asking a violinist to suddenly play double bass. Gunter Langer took a gamble. And the result is more than convincing. Using his own special technique for space-consuming lines, he has succeeded in painting a self-assured nude who exudes tingling eroticism. The artist enhances this impression through the use of gouache paints. They breathe life into the figure and give the work a three-dimensional depth.
There are many famous examples of large-format paintings – Rafael’s “Sistine Madonna”, Otto Dix’s monumental triptych “The War”, and “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso. Drawings, on the other hand, hardly exist larger than 297x420 mm (A3). The problem is the perspective. The distance between the artist and the page is dictated by his arm’s length. The larger the format, the more difficult it is to see the drawing from a short distance. " It is no longer possible to capture the proportions with a single look. It is difficult to correlate the shapes correctly," explains Gunter Langer.
Nevertheless, he has been drawing on A2 paper (420x594 mm) since 2007 and has recently started drawing on A1 paper (841x1189 mm). He could do this easily by using techniques employed by many artists when working on large-format paintings. First, they draw their composition in a small format and then transfer it onto a larger-dimension support using gridlines as well as projecting and tracing it.
Gunter Langer declines this approach to drawing. “You can only bring a drawing to life if you draw your lines freehand and thereby follow your inspiration. An artist is confined by only drawing contour lines. These lines are dead and so is the whole drawing.” Thus, his challenge is accurately realising his motifs in large formats.