Wolfgang Grasse (1930–2008) – Temporal Misfit



Wolfgang Grasse is a temporal misfit, with artistic skills and attitudes that stand out, in our time, as a witch or an alchemist stands out… his work can be traced back to Bosch, Bruegel and Max Beckman.” — Art News

The world that Grasse created on his canvas is more than fantastic, it is magic. He was the wise-old magician. Through his paintings, he cast a spell on the viewer and in that perpetual moment of truth, revealed two thousand years of human degradations.

His painting possesses a haunting menace which appropriately reflect the moral and social values of his time.

Wolfgang Grasse was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1930. After private artistic training first by his grandfather, Feidrich Grasse, and then later studying in Italy, he returned to a partitioned post-war East Germany. There he was imprisoned for his cartoons critical of Soviet propaganda. He was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison.  After serving 8 years of this sentence, he was granted an amnesty and released.

He migrated to Australia in 1966 & has had numerous exhibitions. 

Wolfgang’s art revisits medieval themes in which we find medieval weaponry replaced by that of the 20th century: the machinery of 20th century warfare which was capable of fulfilling the medieval prophesies borne of the plague. His paintings must be seen in the context of  MAD – mutually assured destruction – at the height of the cold war. And although we, the public, now feel safer, the weapons currently at our disposal – chemical and biological – can visit upon us a fate both more immediate and final than that of a nuclear war, albeit one less spectacular.

Wolfgang’s style shares many elements with that of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism:

“Fantastic Realism cannot be compared with Surrealism as a garden cannot be compared with a jungle. The fantasy of the Surrealist comes from the subconscious without formal order or relation, whereas the Fantastic Realist uses his images selectively. He uses old and new symbols to express his art purposefully and to show that the human situation never really changes in its eternal truths. The automatism of images of the Surrealist are a sharp contrast to the meaningful symbolism of the Fantastic Realist.”  Wolfgang Grasse



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