Ben Willikens – lost in space

27. March – 29. May 2021

When Ben Willikens was awarded the Citizen's Medal of the City of Stuttgart in 2019 on the occasion of his 80th birthday, all was still right with the world. This honor is bestowed only on a very illustrious circle; more than 30 living contemporaries cannot hold it in their hands. The list of the artist's national awards is already long; with the Stuttgart tribute, the city also made clear how proud it is to have such an important artist in the city. Born in Leipzig, where he received his existentialist imprint at the end of the destructive World War, Willikens studied in Stuttgart, but his centers of life were elsewhere due to his professorships in Braunschweig and Munich. Study and scholarship stays in London, Florence and Rome also did not reveal that he finally and permanently settled in Stuttgart, where he lives to this day - when he is not in his stately retreat in the Hohenlohisch.
Galerie Schlichtenmaier fulfills a long cherished wish - also by Ben Willikens - and shows about 50 works of the painter, largely created in the years since 2019. Two large formats from 2011 and 2012, as well as some recent medium formats, still recall his classical style and strict spatial organization that made him famous. From "Last Supper" (1976-79) to "Leipzig Firmament" (2013-14), a success story runs through this body of work: The accurate, deserted space oriented to Samuel Beckett's stage became his hallmark, the gray in countless nuances to the most subtle hues his visual language. Essential for the new works, which strike completely new tones, is on the one hand the opening of the anonymous space in favor of the tangible environment: under the title "Floß" ("Raft"), photo prints have been created in the context of the artist's own studio for about ten years, over which an emphatically painterly brushstroke runs. As if space, as a presumption of limitation, were expanding into an airier, freer dimension, Ben Willikens now also looks at space from the outside in his canvas works. It becomes concretely tangible in the so-called spaces of modernity, which become concretely nameable, as well as in the series with a harbor building in Amsterdam. It seems as if Willikens reacts to the pandemic with his powerful handwriting, now visible in the ductus, which emphatically rebels against the self-imposed order.
Zurück zum Rückblick

Schloss Dätzingen / D-71120 Grafenau
T + 49 (0) 70 33 / 4 13 94
F + 49 (0) 70 33 / 4 49 23
Opening hours
Wednesday – Friday 11 – 18.30
Saturday 11 – 16
or by appointment
Kleiner Schlossplatz 11 / D-70173 Stuttgart
T + 49 (0) 711 / 120 41 51
F + 49 (0) 711 / 120 42 80
Opening hours
Tuesday – Friday 11 – 19
Saturday 11 – 17
or by appointment

Galerie Schlichtenmaier
Youtube Kanal
de | en