Rainer Fetting studied at the Hochschule für Künste in Berlin from 1972 to 1978. At the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, the artist became internationally known as one of the most important protagonists of the so-called "Junge Wilden": a group of young German painters in West Berlin who turned against the then prevailing abstract and conceptual tendencies in art with expressive figurative painting. It was during this period that the artist created his first significant series of works: The shower and wall paintings. Fetting was exhibited in 1981 at the "New Spirit in Painting" exhibition organized by Norman Rosenthal and Christos M. Joachimides at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and took part in the Zeitgeist exhibition in Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau in 1982. Today, Fetting's works can be found in important museum collections such as the Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
The encounter with the works of various artists of the New York School was particularly formative for Fetting's painting. Above all, he uses artistic principles such as Willem De Kooning's distinctive painterly gestures or Jackson Pollock's famous color drippings for his expressive handling of figurative motifs. Although Fetting's paintings do not purely focus on the effect of color, like Mark Rothko's famous color field paintings, they do often play with the conveyed emotionality of the chosen color in his compositions.
Even if recurring motifs can be identified (for example, Fetting painted his model Desmond regularly since 1984), he always succeeds in breaking new ground while maintaining his freshness and creativity. In the 1980s and early 1990s his two residences in Berlin and New York determined the artist's motifs. Fetting gave up his New York residence in the mid-1990s and has since been commuting between the German capital and the island of Sylt. The landscape there inspired him above all. Fetting captures the enormous dynamics of nature with his expressive brushstrokes and his sense of color.
The artist's creative aspiration to cross borders, break with conventions and generally leave traditional paths is already evident in his choice of subjects in the over four decades of his artistic career. He thematized the sensuality of the male body early on, painted black people and homeless people in New York or showed himself in drag. Living in West Berlin, he depicted the Berlin Wall in vibrant colours and captured the pulsating metropolis of New York with his well-known series of Yellow Cabs. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Fetting painted rapeseed fields of the Berlin countryside and building cranes over the city as an expression of awakening and internationality.
His pictorial language and his use of the medium of painting are in a constant state of flux. Fetting painted his first paintings with dispersion, later in oil. In recent years, besides oil paintings, he has created many works in acrylic on canvas, especially in Sylt. In an earlier series, Fetting mounted wooden boards collected at the piers of the Hudson River in New York onto his canvases and integrated them into his compositions. In recent years, a different strategy has been employed to go beyond the classical canvas format and to lend the motifs of the paintings an additional dynamic: The rectangular format is extended by docking smaller canvases on the edge, on which the motif is then continued.
Rainer Fetting is also known for his sculptural work. A majority of the German public is probably familiar with the bronze statue of Willy Brandt in the SPD headquarters, which the artist created as a commissioned work in the mid-1990s. Like his paintings, Fetting's sculptures with their furrowed surfaces and twisted poses are characterized by expressive power. The exhibition at the Galerie Thomas Fuchs will be showing three bronze sculptures as well.