Gernot Bubenik 

The artist Gernot Bubenik doesn't make any compromises. He lives for art itself, not solely for the painting and certainly not for the market. For nearly 50 years he has now been working relentlessly in a live/work loft high above Berlin. He is engaging in a life long quest to explore the origin of form and movement in all things living. He puts complex thoughts into a visual formula, follows the movement of his hand or uses his entire body. During 5 decades Bubenik went through many different artistic developments and stages, but his central theme always stays visible and present.   

Since 1967 this artist loft in an old factory building is his epicenter and micro cosmos. Here, art was created, theories developed, children raised, earthworms cultivated and new paint invented. Around it buildings were squatted, torn down. The Berlin wall fell, his loft burned and the firefighters threw all his painting into the courtyard 4 stories down. But still, up here, high above Berlins infamous neighborhood Kreuzberg, the Bubenik universe stayed preserved like in a cocoon. Once it stood on the egde of West Berlin, on a street that was cut of by the wall. But after the fall of the wall it suddenly was smack in the middle of it all and the neighborhood became a cultural hub. But in his artist loft the clocks tick differently. Up the 8 flights of stairs, in his own little world, Bubenik’s work was not influence by wether or not he was currently “hot”, bought or ignored. Here it was possible for him to simply follow his impulses and only do what drives him personally.

Early Memories
Born into a German family in Troppau, Czech Republic in 1942, Bubenik's earliest memories are shaped by the end of the war. In his own words "a time of chaos, fear and uncertainty". After Germany lost the war many of the several centuries old German settlements in different parts of Europe faced a very difficult situation. Bubenik's mother, with her husband missing in the war, decided to join her relatives on the long journey to Germany. A country they hardly new. During this journey they spend month after month in a utility train, parked in train stations until the authorities new were to send them next. Bubenik remembers this time, surprisingly enough, in a positive manner. The war was behind them and his family was relieved to have survived while others were not as lucky. The train tracks lead all of them to a new beginning.

Gernot Bubenik (* 1942 in Troppau geboren)

The Visit

The Photographer Rob Lewis visited Gernot Bubenik in March 2014 together with Till Könneker, Bubeniks youngest son. They discovered a real treasure trove of printed graphics, silk screens, information panels and paintings. A huge body of work which Bubenik has neatly stored and archived in his loft. A lot of which hasn't been shown in public for decades or was perceived lost.  Even more astounding was the power and currency that emerged, though only a fraction was viewed at that time. Some works of art, among them the monumental paintings with the subject of the European history which Bubenik completed by order of the city Berlin, are stored in the cellars of the Berlinische Galerie and the Neue Nationalgalerie, inaccessible to the public at this time.

One has to revisit Gernot Bubenik and discover him again, for the world has first celebrated him and then forgotten. 


Photos by Rob Lewis, Manfred Leve und Gernot Bubenik
Copyright 2014