Volker Stelzmann. Thicket

26 Apr 2024 – 8 Jun 2024

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Galerie Poll

Berlin, Germany


Travel Information

  • U-Bahn U8 Station „Weinmeisterstraße“, S-Bahn S5, S7, S9, S75 Station „Hackescher Markt“, Tram M1, M4, M5, M8
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Volker Stelzmann has named his twelfth solo exhibition at Galerie Poll “Thicket”. The gallery has represented the painter for over thirty years.


Stelzmann's work is characterised by great continuity. Over the years, he has created his own universe of images through his distinctive language of forms. He continually invents new, sophisticated arrangements and compositions for his groups of figures. Limbs whirl around, people stand closely packed side by side or one behind the other, without any apparent interaction. They wear fashionable clothing such as hoodies or neon-coloured trainers with thick soles, notable hairstyles, or headgear. The faces, with wide-open eyes, are expressive and yet seem frozen into masks.

“Stelzmann observes his contemporaries on the street as intensely as he does the beloved Renaissance painters and Mannerists, whose works he discovered even in the most remote villages during his numerous trips to Italy. To him, history is not something distant, but omnipresent. Conversely, those modern people he depicts become part of a cross-era study of humanity – as well as a timeless reflection on what painting can achieve in the interplay of tradition and innovation” (Sebastian Preuss, 2020).

Stelzmann ironically comments on the daily news with paintings like “The Tortoise”, named after a marching formation of Roman legionnaires, or “Barrier”. People almost completely disappear behind banners with slogans like LGBTQ, DIVERS, KLIMAFASCH, or WHITE MEN, which one can complete themselves. Two “Knife Men” threaten a person in the painting of the same name, while others watch helplessly or flee.

Each of Stelzmann's images is based on a precise observation of his environment, without any didactic intention with his paintings. The artist repeatedly paints himself as an observer (“Self-portrait with Grey-Green Cap”) or blends in with his wife Henriette among the group of people (“Frieze of Heads I”).

Still lifes are also recurring themes in his work. An arrangement of “Sea Snails and Shells” on a cardboard is depicted in precise, fine oil glaze painting, as is a “Blue Pumpkin” and a celery root against a brown background.

Volker Stelzmann, born in Dresden in 1940, moved to Leipzig in 1948, studied from 1963 to 1968 at the Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst) in Leipzig, where he taught from 1975 to 1986, with an appointment as professor from 1982 onward. In 1986 he used a large exhibition of his works at the Staatliche Kunsthalle in West Berlin to leave the GDR. After a guest professorship at the Städelschule Frankfurt am Main in 1987/1988, in 1988 he was appointed professor at the West Berlin University of the Arts (HdK, today: the Berlin University of the Arts). He taught there until his retirement in 2006. Galerie Poll presented its first solo exhibition of Volker Stelzmann in 1988. Works by the artist are held in important public and private collections. Volker Stelzmann lives and works in Berlin.

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Volker Stelzmann


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