Stephan Melzl

Published by Distanz, Berlin, 2014
Contributions by Bernhart Schwenk and Hans-Jürgen Hafner

A little girl, oblivious to the world around her, supports herself on an axe that is taller than she herself. The sharp blade that has just felled a tree points right at what is beneath her dress, lifted by a gentle updraft. The stump mirrors her rosy pudenda. Stephan Melzl (b. Basel, 1959; lives and works in Frankfurt am Main) has set the child into a detail from Fragonard’s rococo painting “Swing,” which shows a courtly lady on a swing inviting her lover’s gaze to penetrate beneath her skirt; Melzl’s own picture bears the curt title “Cut” (2011). The meticulously calculated hyperbole of Melzl’s Renaissance-style oil-on-wood depictions of his subjects may be read as a sharp-edged barb against hypocritical visions of the idyllic life that we are only too prone to cling to. So the artist’s visual universe is about more than the ambiguous motifs: it aims to sharpen the gaze with which the viewer contemplates the artist’s theatrical productions and the diverse associations they evoke.

This book is the first monograph about Stephan Melzl and features numerous drawings and paintings created between 1997 and 2013. With essays by Bernhart Schwenk and Hans-Jürgen Hafner.

Supported by Stiftung Kunstfonds with funds of VG Bild-Kunst.

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