“I need the medium to be more potent than the message,” Adrian Ghenie tells The Art Newspaper, referring to his series of works depicting a discern akin to President Trump. The Venice show The Battle Between Carnival and Feast (till 18 November) includes three pix of america chief along side different works bearing on geopolitical issues which include The Raft (2019), which alludes to the global immigration disaster.

“The artwork have to be greater important than the difficulty. In 20 years or 2 hundred years, I don’t need these Trumps to be visible as Trumps. Painting is a medium practised through many however kept alive by using few,” Ghenie says, including that the political undercurrent is incidental. “I’m not inquisitive about Trump as the horrific man. To me, his face has end up an archetype.”


Ghenie also give insights into his approach, describing how he constructs his complex multi-layered paintings. “I make a small collage as a starting point and glue those elements onto a board. I use this as a manual and transfer it to a canvas [reproducing the different parts]. My painting has to be crisp, like Flemish painting. I need to make clear an area and paintings inside the portray. There must be energy and manipulate,” he says.

Earlier this 12 months though he felt unwell—blood checks indicated excessive degrees of mercury and lead in his bloodstream, which medical doctors put down to the paints he changed into the usage of (he has seeing that recovered).

The artist also addressed the stratospheric upward push in his fees that have accelerated a hundred and sixty-fold during the last decade. Ghenie’s tackle Van Gogh and degenerate art, The Sunflowers in 1937 (2014), bought at Sotheby’s in London in February 2016 for £three.1m (est £400,000-£six hundred,000). His auction record stands at £7.1m for Nickelodeon (2008) which sold at Christie’s, London, in October 2016 (est £1m-£1.5m).

On his artwork marketplace upward push, he says: “It’s like a person telling you which you’ve appeared in a porn movie online. You realize it’s there, people are looking at it, and it could be embarrassing. But you appearance top and also you simply ignore it.” He makes round 15 to 20 works yearly; not one of the works inside the Venice show, organised in collaboration with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, are currently for sale.

He adds also that there is an urge for food for his works in Asia. “Asian audiences like my work. It’s a Modernism they never had with the modern-day [element] they want. I’m almost a myth of European Modernism for them,” Ghenie says. In November 2016, his portray Elvis (2009) bought for HK$five.5m (est HK$1.2m-HK$1.5m) at a Phillips public sale in Hong Kong.

Last 12 months, the critic Judd Tully wrote that Ghenie’s “alternately lush and vigorous fashion has earned him comparisons to Francis William Maxwell Aitken”. Asked if the assessment is tiresome, Ghenie says: “That does no longer say some thing about my painting [practice] but it says lots approximately the artwork world, which continually wants a quick rationalization or description. We’re coming from special guidelines.”

Regarding his approach and method, he factors out that “summary art and figuration had been in competition at some point of the twentieth century. Abstraction become the give up stop for artists like Rothko; my painting is now more summary.” Other works in the Venice show, which veer between one-of-a-kind patterns, consist of The Drowning (2019), depicting a distorted frame encircled by using tropical fish, and Self-Portrait with iPhone (2018).

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