Aschersleben is the place of his childhood – Neo Rauch still feels a deep connection to the small town. There he shows part of his work, which is created alongside his internationally acclaimed paintings.

The Leipzig painter Neo Rauch has an international presence with his paintings – but his graphics have a home in the small town of Aschersleben.

Ten years ago, near the Harz Mountains, where Rauch grew up with his grandparents, he and the city founded the Neo Rauch Graphic Foundation. The now 62-year-old gives a copy of his graphic editions as a gift. Since Wednesday, the Graphic Foundation has been showing “Neo Rauch. The inventory of prints since 1988» for the first time all prints by the artist.

A bricklayer builds castles in the air

There are around 150 lithographs, etchings and screen prints from the collection of the Foundation, new acquisitions, loans and previously rarely shown sheets from the early years. «I’m actually not a graphic artist, I’m a painter. And what you see here is an accessory, something that is created next to the big screens, »said Rauch on Wednesday in Aschersleben.

All the drawers were opened to collect the works, said Rauch. But there are also completely new graphics in the exhibition. “For a few months now, a mason has been haunting my work, a journeyman mason, dressed in white and equipped with his trowel, and he’s apparently building castles in the air.” He has no base and has to balance on spheres that are floating somewhere in nothing.

Neo Rauch interprets the figure as follows: «It probably has something to do with the actor in free space, which I also see as a painter. I also create castles in the air in front of me and have to make sure that I somehow keep them in balance and the whole thing on uncertain ground. And at the same time it seems to me to be a metaphor for our existence par excellence, especially at the moment.»

The best is yet to come

The exhibition spans the early sheets from the years 1988 to 1993, some of which were created at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, to drafts for posters, illustrations, book covers and New Year’s sheets.

Ten years ago, Neo Rauch said in Aschersleben: «I am still in the late puberty stage of my artistic work. The best is yet to come.” Asked about it on Wednesday, the 62-year-old said: “I don’t want to claim to have grown up in these ten years.” And: «The retirement age cannot be clearly determined here, i.e. the moment when you put on your fishing vest and do nothing more of what was previously important. Well, the best is probably yet to come. I assume.”

The exhibition at the Neo Rauch Aschersleben Graphic Foundation will be on view until April 28, 2024. According to the foundation, 49,500 visitors have come since the first exhibition began in 2012. Among other things, Neo Rauch’s works hung next to those of his wife Rosa Loy and those of his father Hanno Rauch, who died young.