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The presentation of the painting Newcomer (1999) by Michel Majerus (1967–2002) is part of the tribute that the Konschthal Esch pays to the Luxembourg painter who died 20 years ago. This painting belongs to a period when Michel Majerus was at the peak of his international recognition. In 1999, Harald Szeemann, then curator of the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale, invited Michel Majerus to create a large-scale pictorial installation on the façade of the central pavilion of the Giardini exhibition site. Szeemann had been able to appreciate Michel Majerus’ talent during the second edition of the European Biennial of Contemporary Art Manifesta in Luxembourg in 1998.

Newcomer belongs to a period in which Michel Majerus’ painting are beginning to become more refined. Less loaded than in the mid-1990s, the paintings from this period at the end of the millennium contain few pictorial elements.

Newcomer is no exception: the almost square surface of the canvas is dotted with only a few elements, including a “zip”: a red line such as Barnett Newman had used to subdivide his paintings.

The word Newcomer is painted in a “techno” typography whose form embodies the meaning of the word. The words and slogans that form an essential part of Michel Majerus’ pictorial vocabulary are nothing more than repetitions, that he quotes at will and that oscillate between an ironic commentary, a reference to the history of art and a critique of the consumerist aesthetic. This ambiguity of quotation goes beyond the simple diversions of Pop Art from the 1960s by adding a dose of cynicism, very typical of the representatives of “Generation X” in the 1990s.

In addition, the Konschthal Esch is showing the documentary Michel Majerus - Next Step (2021) by the Luxembourg director Anne Schiltz. This film traces the life and career of this prolific painter and asks how to keep an artist’s work alive after his early death.

Michel Majerus - Next Step (2021)
Colour video, sound - 59 min.
German language, English subtitles
Produced by Anne Schroeder / Samsa Film

Anne Schiltz studied at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. She lives and works in Luxembourg. Her documentary films include The Sweet Life and All That Goes with It (2002) and Gordian Troeller Revisited - Eritrea (2007). She has a particular interest in music, as can be seen in her first feature-length documentary, Cello Tales (2013), which explores the relationship musicians have with the instrument, and Courants d’airs (2017), which focuses on three Luxembourg women composers. Her new documentary Next Step follows the life and career of the artist Michel Majerus.

Additional Info

  • Type Current exhibition
  • Artist(s) Michel Majerus
  • Location Floor 01
  • Curator(s) Christian Mosar