With its angular figures and evocations of Weimar-era Expressionism, Volker Hueller’s art is very German in character. But that’s okay. Considering the surfeit of Minimalism-derived efforts by young American artists, a dose of European modernism comes as a relief—and the 36-year-old
Hueller, like many of his Berlin contemporaries, revels in channeling early-20th-century modernism. The pieces in his latest show (hand-colored etchings of rakish figures reclining against trees; sumptuous oil portraits of subjects with elongated necks; concrete busts; and a series of patchworklike paintings) luxuriate in a sort of cool revivalist decadence.
Since this is Hueller’s third solo with the gallery, one could ask, what’s changed since his previous outings? Well, a more expansive use of scale, for one thing, as well as a pronounced sense of toughness in some of the paintings, which are nearly all-black.
Those canvases were created during a residency in Washington, Connecticut, and the rolling hills of Litchfield County left their stamp, quite literally. Bugs, sticks and other random objects imbedded into the compositions attest to the verdant surroundings. And at least one painting—a Laura Ashley–meets-Picasso number titled Black Vase—was marked by Hurricane Sandy, thanks to high winds forming a glossy sheen on part of the surface as it dried.
Hueller’s works remain resolutely Teutonic within his pastoral American milieu. Even so, his desire to reengage the avant-garde past is one he shares with his American counterparts.—Nana Asfour