German born British artist extraordinaire Frank Auerbach, has made a name for himself for creating some of the most deep, harrowing and inventive art of recent times. The 60 year old workaholic artist can still be found working meticulously in his Camden studio, from nine to five, 6 days a week in London. Auerbach made a name for himself with his stark and dark depictions of street life in London and became known for his signature thick use of paint. So thick is the layer of paint used by Auerbach that to first timer it may seem like the paint layer might just fall off the canvas. His methodology has been constant from the time he first picked up a paint brush, and his perfectionist nature often means that most of his works end up in the trash bin and he starts all over again if he isn’t happy with him work.
Born in Berlin, Germany in 1931 to a lawyer father and artist mother Auerbach came to Britain in 1939 at a young age of 7. His parents shipped him off under the Kindertransport Scheme in order to avoid the Nazi persecution. Unfortunately his parents weren’t so lucky, both passed away at a concentration camp. Trying to move forward from the tragedy, Auerback enrolled in a local school and excelled in art. By the age of 16 he was being taught art by David Bomberg and attended the Royal College of Art in London. Auerbach’s introverted nature made him keep mostly to himself – a trait present to this day as the artist gives barely an interview once in a decade – but he did strike up a close friendship with none other than Lucian Freud. Auerbach takes art very seriously and to this day says it openly that it’s not a profession to take lightly as its hard work and requires a lot of dedication and commitment. That’s why the artist is often found working for hours at a length for weeks at his London studio. Auerbach’s art is not meant for shocking people but to a certain degree it does. His work is heavily laden in multiple layers of strange paints giving his work an almost radical angle. If one examines his work E.O.W On Her Blue Eiderdown II, one can see a ripe, raw and thick texture of paint – Auerbach takes it to a visceral extreme. The river – which is the main object of the painting – is twisted, mounded with multiple water layers and spiky hardened peaks. It’s almost as if he used the paint straight from the tube instead of using a paint brush.
Much of Frank Auerbach’s work put him in the same league as American abstract expressionist artists like Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti. London is also a common theme which comes up in Auerbach’s painting. His adoptive home can be seen in a majority of Auerbach’s work each painted in his unique radical style. His love for London is apparent in his painting Mornington Crescent – an exuberant bright depiction of the hippy London area which Auerbach now calls home. The rich orange and yellow layers with a touch of black capture the vibrancy of the street in a typical Auerbach manner. The Golden Lion Prize winner insists that he is still uncomfortable with the ‘glitz and glamour’ associated with the art world, for him art is the ‘most marvelous activity humans have created.’