Review: Willehad Eilers, LA BLAGUE

Galerie Droste, 5 Dec – 19 Dec 2020

DAS SCHWEIN, oil on canvas, 145 x 190 cm

Willehad Eilers or Wayne Horse, the German painter, asks us to participate in la blague-the joke-that is excoriated from asking “what remains when food and other essential goods are always available? When war is only known from the news and you never have to fear for your life? When money and infrastructure are always available?” 

“What remains is your own self-optimization and self-realization. However, the range of what is ‘offered’ as success, happiness or a fulfilled life is relatively small. Thus, not only a general alarming shift of self-related problems can be observed, but also a repetitive and unrealistic representation of life as a single high, as a single party” (text excerpt via Galerie Droste).

Eilers paints this electrifyingly gruesome perpetual party. The work elicits tarts or war head candies, undulating between opulence and disgust, sour and sweet. They are monumentally-scaled, in the vein of the great history paintings. They are surreal conflagrations parallel to German expressionism and its counter Neue Sachlichkeit forbearers who explored their era’s identical fever dreams of deadening excess, the roaring 20’s of the Weimar Republic. It is somehow difficult for us to learn human time is a record on perpetual loop. 

Dreh Dich Nicht Um, oil on canvas, 160 x 240 cm

A fertility trope of woman as rabbit travels through the paintings, represented by the Playboy bunny ears sitting on the various heads of female party-goers. Empires rise and fall like anthills, this is forgotten in the weight of human instinct and hunger. The desire to propagate one’s influence and stake in the future, to revel in the lack of need given to the few who efface it for the many, rules the stretched, broken forms composing these apocalyptic orgies. 

Baby with You, oil on canvas, 52 x 39 cm

The paintings are grandly base and biting, pulling the viewer into a common pit dug of endless surplus, into tornado earthquake zombie hoards of the “well-to-do,” so drunk and empty on account of deadening blackhole enjoyments.

Their is a dangerous pathology that afflicts the global affluent, the hegemony that will not relinquish its power and refuses empathy for those not positioned on top. The obscenely wealthy minority of white males who control the distribution of human resources do not concern themselves with a human communal fate but with their individual comfort and, secondarily, a familial fate. This group has waged a multi-generational war conquering as much of the world’s resources as possible through the widening boundaries of globalized reach, and they have won this war to the detriment of the world, humanity ecologically, and (most ironically) themselves. Morals play no part, truth and honesty play no part, just the basest instinct for more. The distinct and succinct goal of a conqueror is to claim everything for himself, though this subjugates, imprisons, and restrains any hope for change for the majority of humanity.

DER SCHERZ, oil on canvas, 145 x 190 cm

The longing for accumulation, material and control is an incessant human instinct that prevails in the uneducated, fearful and unconscious. Unlike what might be historically perceived, a lack of true education (this excludes an education purchased or performed) is a fundamental feature of the present global aristocracy. Why would an ill-informed hegemon venture to consider empathy when life-long entitlement demonstrates the only necessity is that the world consider him?

Capital He is trapped in his personally sickening fumigation, this thoughtless roach, this image constructed and desired not only poisoning those without, but those within. Notably, the tyrant is profoundly unaware of his own brittleness and stupidity, the decay of his state, exhibit A: Donald Trump, or The General in His Labyrinth, by Gabriel García Márquez, or any number of fumbling or poised dictators or corporate male managers, landlords, or business owners.

Installation View

Eilers applies an accessible and cruel visual language to illustrate all of this, it is an important critique on a sweepingly infirm world and it comes at a crucial time.

Artist portrait: Willehad Eilers/ Wayne Horse

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