Seen from the point of view of a contemporary painter, the exhibition who we are presents a sweeping panorama of human cultural history. In no fewer than 500 watercolours, Herbert Maier has brought together an array of images of homo sapiens: faces, portraits, figures, as well as illustrations of heads and masks which he has found in various art catalogues and digital archives: ranging from the Palaeolithic Lion-Man figurine to a Japanese Noh mask, from Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to Gerhard Richter’s “Betty”. Maier has included images in his Visual Library that have embedded themselves in the memory as an individual or collective cultural legacy. Famous, iconic portraits jostle with unknown faces and the unexpected. The format of the series of images is always the same: sheet by sheet, a direct proximity shared by the most varied people from different cultures and times begins to crystalise.
Herbert Maier’s encyclopaedic project is certainly highly charged against the backdrop of a fundamental shift in meaning of the image in the digital age. Maier counters the veritable flood of images from Instagram, Snapchat et al with artisanal precision, slowness and conceptual painterly strategies.