Ein Abend im Juni ( we all suffer the same things )
2022, Oil on Wood, 70 × 100 cm
2022, Oil on Wood, 60 × 60 cm
When I arrive, will you come and find me?
2022, Oil on Wood, 50 × 50 cm

Daylight won’t find us here

Ostseenacht VI
2022, Oil on Wood, 60 × 80 cm
2022, Oil on Wood, 20 × 30 cm
Yet alive
2022, Oil on Wood, 20 × 30 cm
Daylight won't find us here
2022, Oil on Wood, 25 × 30 cm
Höhle am Meer im Mondlicht
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 60 cm
Follow Me
2022, Oil on Wood, 60 × 80 cm
All I've undergone I'll keep on
2022, Oil on Wood, 30 × 20 cm
You better watch yourself
2022, Oil on Wood, 25 × 30 cm

When I’m not afraid to love

When I'm not afraid to love
2022, Oil on Wood, 30 × 60 cm
Ostseenacht V (drowning man)
2021, Oil on Wood, 40 × 30 cm
Chor der Morgenröte III
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 30 cm
The loudest sound you've ever heard
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 30 cm
Spuren im Sand
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 30 cm
Tonight the waves approach the shore
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 30 cm
You'll feel love
2022, Oil on Wood, 60 × 40 cm
I left my soul upon the shore
2021, Oil on Wood, 40 × 30 cm
Winterlandschaft bei Dämmerung
2022, Oil on Wood, 50 × 40 cm
I wanna fall in love no more
2022, Oil on Wood, 30 × 60 cm
2022, Oil on Wood, 30 × 60 cm
My friends I'm drowning in shit and it's bringing me down
2022, Oil on Wood, 50 × 40 cm
My own heart has failed me
2022, Oil on Wood, 50 × 40 cm
Chor der Morgenröte I
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 50 cm
Chor der Morgenröte II
2022, Oil on Wood, 40 × 50 cm


Forest Pictures
and Picture Forests

on a motif in the pictures of
Sebastian Nebe

by Marc Ries

They are large pictures. Their subject is always the same: the forest. And: the scraps, traces, residues of people, things apparently left behind, lost, their past function remaining at times unclear (such as the blue ribbon spanned between birch trees). These subjects are arranged within the pictures at a scale that matches the scale outside their frame, thus suggesting a shared presence; the shared presence of the objects within the frame and of those beyond. Thus, the viewer is integrated into the space of the image, even defined as a participant within the pictures. Or are the subjects rather designed as being part of the viewer’s world, where they are included and determined? In any case, this method probably supports the intended and distinguishable »immersive« quality of the pictures, but I believe that the homogeneity of the appearances there and here, an equivalence which provokes partaking, is not engaged in contemplation, but in active correspondence between the inside and outside of the pictures. I look at the forest at eye level, and the forest gazes back at me. But taking part in what? That which is there to see at first appears surprisingly clear.

The surprising element lies in the perfect dovetailing of drawn and real forms, which shapes the overall appearance. The trees, huts, things are displayed in all their details, all their “naturalness”. At the same time everything there is to see is pure drawing, pure imagery. This is a forest, this is a picture. Yet it is a particular forest, a forest selected for this image, that I face. The precision of the depiction is foremost owed to the decision to capture the forest as a forest in winter or autumn, bare of leaves, preferably a birch wood. The deciduous forest has been deprived of its leaves. With this variation, this »different appearance due to the time of day and year«, the trees reach »an exceptional level of reality«. This, I would add to Brecht, is a reality, which is inherently excluded from our society, an Other elevated above an unvaried, linear, excessively self-celebratory social existence bare of any direction. These trees evoke something unsettlingly autonomous, something that turns away from me, something that cannot be exploited. The few leaves that can be seen, are in danger of vanishing in an enormous shadow; they can only be seen in the pale back light, or otherwise, they shimmer in a peculiar remoteness. Thus the branches gain significant power, they entirely destructure the picture, for they are without volume, they rather lash and reach out anywhere, in any direction, as an ideal drawing matter; or the tree stumps, that stretch themselves spasmodically upwards, signifying a time “lived out”. All these elements destabilise the space, they are obstacles, which render the whole impenetrable. The trees appear as simple textures, without flesh, without leaves, without life, any life seems to be withdrawn, or pointing downwards. Furthermore, they are often falling, or broken, derived of their foundation. Down there are immeasurable piles of stones. Stones, rocks, the pinnacles of the inorganic, provide a highly “uneven” ground, a persisting foundation. One cannot be certain as to why there are so many stones inside the forest at all. Perhaps we should consider an upheaval, a reversal, during which the world of rocks had eruptively hewn its way into the forest and taken all its life. A harsh world. On other pictures, then again, pine forests are the rule, trees which, despite their “evergreen” leaves throughout the year, represent an apparent resistance to the natural cycles, much closer to the unchanging, resistant nature of the rocks than the vital movements of plant life. In effect, this is a barren, lifeless or silenced forest, which one approaches as a viewer – or a stroller.

The impression that the subjects of the pictures are intended to be clearly discernible, while at the same time undoubtedly insisting on painterly omnipotence, becomes increasingly powerful. Thus possibility arises to show and create at the same time. One neither has to look for the forest, nor for the painting. Neither merely abstract suggestions, or painterly definitions, nor photographic precision determine the transfer; rather, it rests on a technical and material decision, in other words the medium of drawing, the drawing-painting in the sense of graphical-painterly geometry, and their basis, paper, to realise the simultaneity of presentation and creation. Geometry, understood as the attempt to subsume the given under a supplementary order, to introduce rules for making something visible that is necessarily removed from natural perception. Reality is represented in terms of drawing, but it is not overdrawn. One cannot deny a certain comic-style tendency here. However, invention or liberation are not what is aspired, but rather a focused discovery of all those elements – the branches, the bare trunks, huts, rocks –, which, found and selected as they are, are most appropriate to be used as material for drawing and graphical approaches. Paper, then again, marks the will to define a space of correspondence, because paper, in contrast to canvas, does not yield a definite image object, but rather makes it possible to imagine the layers of paint as a membrane, a passage between two spaces, and thus our perspective.

The pictures of the forest by and by turn into forests filled with pictures. Into a forest which in itself is the image. The provoking element in viewing these pictures lies probably in the fact that while one sees the forest, one at the same time has the experience of standing inside a forest. Probably the most significant dimension of a forest is its very lack of dimensions, its lack of directions, its lack of distances one could estimate, its dynamism that denies any perspective. When one stands in the forest, there is hardly any orientation, hardly any distances one could estimate, and as such, the forest irrefutably reveals itself as a forest. We are surrounded by countless tress, by the forest. By something entire, the actual, yet hidden violence and logic of which we can only imagine. One could say that the forest is the natural space which perhaps represents the most acquainted type of the uncanny. The core attribute of the forest’s nature is probably a lack of similarities within its boundaries. This might be a fundamental difference of natural spaces and cultural spaces in general, yet the forest does produce this difference with a unique analogy to humanity. Trees are – in comparison to stones, other plants and water – vertical “beings”; they face the visitor to a forest, they are figures in space, characterised, however, by enormous differences: they are, though often thinner than the human body, still considerably taller, and they always appear in greater numbers, their obvious amount makes clear that there is a mass, a majority that will not be surmounted. And a third aspect is particularly obvious with the forest. Oscillating between fear and desire, the perception of its varietà, its variety, its polymorphism, the immense singularity of its component parts, no tree is like another, no branch, no leaf. That again is another universal rule, the diversity of all species, but it was in particular the human being which has always tried to assert its uniqueness, its culturality through a rough, contrary programme, the programme of identity, of sameness, the unity of his self and all things created by him. As such, the objects of use that are arranged in the pictures – a hut, a canopy swing, bits of plastic – are highly recognisable due to their clear forms, their common materials, the serial nature, in other words, the possible repetition of their nature as commodities. Yet this effect is constantly subverted by the total antagonism through which the natural qualities of the trees and stones articulate themselves, by their obscure and thus also uncanny polymorphism. In Renaissance painting, the varietà in combination with the composizione was considered a desirable goal. “Indeed, both terms are in fact complementary: neither the centrifugal varietà nor the centripetal composizione can exist by itself. Composizione disciplines varietà; varietà nurtures composizione”. Whereas the varietà is concerned with the diversity and the contrast of the gestures of the figures and hues of paint, the composizione is engaged with the “systematic adjustment of every element in a picture to serve a desired impression as a whole”. Of course, in the Quattrocento these guidelines are mostly applied to the depiction of human figures. But already in the pictures by Filippo Lippi we encounter “uncanny, but perfectly executed worlds behind the protagonists, where [he] allows the composed space to extend deep into the picture, whether these elements might be trees or rocks.” Sebastian Nebes’ unpeopled pictures elaborate on the unbridgeable distance of man from nature exactly via the accentuated graphical depiction of the varietà of trees and rocks – in comparison to the schemes of compositional arrangement and colour saturation within the pictures. The left behind, now useless objects in their primitivism emit the fatuous brilliance of an involution, by intention concerned merely with quantity, and not “quality”, as Novalis and the Romantics would have it. Novalis’ dictum “to give the ordinary a mysterious appearance” is sacrificed in these pictures to the uncanny of vital diversity, as it appears in the creative power of nature as natura naturans – even if it is limited to that particular point in time when, apparently exhausted by growth and blossoming, nature dies and turns lifeless. It is a fascinating exercise to compare these two kinds of death within the paintings. The »stationary« transition-death of a nature that in its very stillness, its required nakedness is elaborated with the graphical directness and sobriety that demonstrate the entirety of the violence of its abundance and diversity. And also the predetermined, ultimate death of all those things with which we surround us, which befalls them once we have abandoned them for whatever reason, once they slowly fall apart and enter an entirely apathetic, stupendous present. Whereas nature replies to the question of »what for« with the precision of the logic of its vitality, the “what for” of things becomes a parody of their functionality, life as such reveals itself within them entirely as “a self-destructive illusion” (Novalis). But yet we have painting, we have pictures that may still validate to us, that that which we see as given by the outside force of nature, at the same time is always an image we have created ourselves.

A further element charges the paintings with additional mystery, which likewise draws the view towards the pictures. In most of the paintings, the entity which makes pictures as such possible, light, is significant in a surprisingly spectacular way. It seems as if light – the skies – introduces an atmospheric difference to the darkness of nature, to the gradient indifference of fall and winter time; the surprising richness of its colour, ranging from soft, bright hues of blue and red to strong, glowing red embers might produce a certain sense of elevation above the negativity of nature and its figures, but yet there is a suggestion of uncertainty. Where does this light come from, is it a playful dawn, a sign for the presence of a cultural agglomeration “beyond” nature, the condensed illumination of a city, is it a mere, yet aggressive quote of a pacified epoch of painting, or indeed the signification of an apocalyptic overcoming of everything? Furthermore, the light is the actual painterly element in these pictures, a hue which relates the simultaneously thetic and antithetic to the disegno of the forest and the objects, affirming them in their deathly clutch, while at the same time injecting them with a hope of overcoming.

1. Bert Brecht quoted in Martin Seel, Eine Ästhetik der Natur. Frankfurt/Main 1991, p.105-6

2. Michael Baxandall, Die Wirklichkeit der Bilder. Malerei und Erfahrung im Italien des 15. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/Main 1977, p.179.

3. Ibd., p.178.

4. Ibd., p.179.

5. cf. Novalis, »Die Welt muß romantisiert werden«, in: Herbert Uerlings, Die Theorie der Romantik, Stuttgart 2000, p.51.

The Forest as
a Stage

Interview with
Sebastian Nebe in 2013

by Jürgen Kleindienst, Leipziger Volkszeitung

One stands before a towering panorama. And yet stand is the wrong word; one walks. You walk into this picture, find yourself in a pine forest, where naked branches interweave impenetrably. Snow covers the ground, old snow. The forest has endured a long winter, so it seems. The mood is somewhere between ‘not yet’ and ‘no longer’: the day, the year. The thicket opens up in the centre. The pathos of the form, the subject: all metaphors that could dwell in this forest; all at once they seem to have slipped away. We stand before the wreck of a car. An old chair glances out, and apart from that it is as if we could literally hear the silence. But still it is clear: someone has been here.

“The New Morning” is the title of the four-part, 186 times 600 centimetre painting around which you have built an entire series and your exhibition. Mr Nebe, does this forest exist?

It does and it doesn’t. The barrier between reality and fiction – this is what I would like to overcome. Certain elements exist in reality, some spatial constructs, for instance the chair in “The New Morning”. I am also quoting from places I had previously conjured up. Each of my series has its own emotional background, and sometimes I refer back to one of them, using the repetition to draw attention to change. The picture wants to be painted.

So you return to these imaginary places like a traveller using them to remember himself?

Yes, this kind of landscape is like a body that, once I have created it, takes on its own life. Like a landscape in which you can move around in all its nooks and crannies.

Your painting has a clarity that transcends all barriers. What could be at the root of this?

I invest a lot of effort in the graphic appearance. I paint with oil on paper. This means that what is white in the pictures, for instance the snow in “The New Morning”, is the white of the paper. There is nothing for me to rub out, erase or paint over. Unless I want it to be black. This requires a whole new kind of concentration – at the same time also an emotional participation. Ultimately it is a wild process of painting, although the technical complexity means that it proceeds in an entirely controlled manner. It is quite contradictory. The landscapes are given a level of saturation that seeps into the walls. The picture hangs there like a membrane; there is no barrier like you would find with canvas, which in itself is an object. The size of the work is another factor. Frequently the format is designed in such a way that the proportions of the image are equivalent to those found outside. So the perspective is always the same as the onlooker’s perspective.

But there is something else also. In your pictures we get the feeling of having become embroiled in a story, a subtle story perhaps, but one that is certainly tangible – somehow just there.

For me it is the idea of using painting as narration, of including the onlooker without revealing too much. In a series such as “The New Morning”, I tried to work like in a film, to portray a place from several perspectives and hence to create the illusion of moving through a setting. And there is always a way in.

How metaphorically do you think when you create your landscapes, and how concerned are you with art history?

I am certainly concerned with emblematic paintings, with imagery. Whether I am painting a bungalow building with a realistic look or a large forest scenario, it always has a metaphorical aspect. The back doors that allow the symbolism to speak are never far away.

Who accompanies you in this; who are your companions?

During my studies I became very interested in David Lynch’s work, also Sigmund Freud. His essay on the uncanny was central to this. For instance when I paint a door, I’m also painting a psychological symbol. There is something behind it; it separates something, the conscious from the unconscious, the familiar and the uncanny.

So you’re back doors are indeed sometimes – doors. But you also portray work that resembles concrete walls, without doors.

Yes, you can lose yourself in the spaces for hours. And at the same time it has its own symbolism: concrete, replacing everything.

Was it a conscious decision for abstraction?

Yes. I was looking to expand on my series “The Silence”, in which I portrayed an abandoned bungalow estate in Wandlitz. It is the setting for a story playing out in the background. Or perhaps playing out. With certain artefacts. The abstract works in “The Silence” draw on a mood and look at it from a more meditative perspective. You could almost call them memento-mori motifs, meditation in space, reminiscent of concrete walls.

For instance we have the night camp scene. A blanket, a light. Someone spent the night here, but didn’t linger, and the blanket is folded neatly. You returned to this topic and relocated it to the forest…

Yes, and it creates a peculiar story. Perhaps it is the onlooker himself positioned there. It could just as well be a small ironic allusion to the romantic artist housing in rocky ravines for days, just to sketch trees. At the same time, though, it is quite simply a place of silence.

But I still sense something uncanny; you imagine yourself lying there, anticipating the nocturnal return of the familiar in the form of fears, ghosts, here in this godforsaken place…

To put it prosaically, it is a reference to the contemporaneous human condition, our own place within this terrain as onlookers.

My sense is not quite so prosaic. I believe there are two forms of solitude out there in the forest, so to speak: one of them we perceive as comfortable, almost as release; it emerges, when you sense it, as if you were the only person there in this setting, as if you could become one with your environment, with nature, which although far removed now from its original state, abides nevertheless. The other, the uncanny – it is more loneliness – comes into being through a sense that someone else, a stranger is there, through the physical manifestation of this nocturnal camp or the detritus that someone else has discarded. You certainly think of a presence, someone with a less romantic appreciation of the place, someone who just uses it. – And now you’ve drawn me into your game…


For you, human beings are absent, yet nevertheless very present. Have you ever used human figures in paintings?

I did until 2007.

And why did they die out?

I am concerned with the creation of a certain atmosphere. And I want to preserve the openness with which it can be interpreted. I can no longer imagine painting persons in the settings. It would strip them of their mystery because the whole focus would be on them and the hidden stories secreted in the painting would dissipate. In this way, though, onlookers are drawn immediately into the paintings. At least that’s what I hope.

In a sense your work always revolves around mystery, the familiar, but also the uncanny (Geheimnis, heimelig, unheimlich). The German words have the common root “Heim” or home. Is this a coincidence?

No. Houses have a central significance in my work, appearing time and again, visible and suggested. For me it is a strong symbol, a rich treasure trove with many different levels of meaning. The history of art and film has apportioned houses a fixed yet very diverse symbolic function. As I said before, it is a place of the familiar, the uncanny and also a huge secret. An allegory for the human psyche and a place of our childhood, a home.


The Newest Leipzig School

by Defne Kizilöz, Asli Özdemir

The main representatives of the Old Leipzig School are Wolfgang Mattheuer, Bernhard Heisig and Werner Tübke. Their figurative paintings inspired the second generation of the Leipzig School. Although their protagonists rejected the concept of a school, it nevertheless became established as a brand.[1] Yet, how did the phenomenon of the New Leipzig School come about and what was its key to success?

Leipzig painting has always been associated with the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (HGB) in Leipzig, which traditionally was devoted to the graphic arts, even in the early years of the GDR. It was not until 1961, when Bernhard Heisig assumed the position of dean, that a regular painting class was introduced in addition to the study of graphic arts.[2] In the decades leading up to the Peaceful Revolution in the fall of 1989, this painting class established the success of Leipzig painting. A key figure in preserving its success was Arno Rink, who, from 1987 on, served as dean of the HGB and orchestrated the university’s restructuring after 1989. In the course of this reorganization, Rink entertained new concepts, but never cut the roots of the Leipzig School. As a result, even after 1989, the topos concerning the death of painting never applied to Leipzig, ushering the way for a post-socialist generation of artists. A further key figure in this reorientation process was Neo Rauch, initially an honors student and later assistant to Arno Rink. In 2005, he was appointed professor of painting at the HGB.

The artist-run gallery LIGA, which was founded in 2002 by eleven HGB students and gradates, is considered to mark the birth of the New Leipzig School. At the time, it provided contacts to art professionals and helped create exhibition opportunities. The success of LIGA was ultimately based on the collective pragmatism of self-promotion and the artists’ individual claim to autonomy. Arno Rink’s work as a teacher also played an important role in the history of the New Leipzig School, as almost all LIGA members had studied with him. Most of them

were also represented in the important exhibition Sieben mal Malerei (Seven Times Painting) (2003), which emphasized the Leipzig artists’ similarities and mutual roots.[3]

Lastly, the Spinnerei, a repurposed cotton spinning mill, in Leipzig Plagwitz was also of importance. For some time, painters had already begun to move their studios there, and in 2005 most of Leipzig’s galleries followed. The site of the Spinnerei became the heart of the New Leipzig School. In the exhibition Made in Leipzig. Bilder aus einer Stadt (Made in Leipzig. Paintings from a City) (2006), the first and second generation of the Old Leipzig School were showcased for the first time alongside the protagonists of the New Leipzig School in an extensive presentation.

Several years later a whole generation of painters liberated itself. And that liberation was followed by emancipation. In liberating themselves from the undifferentiated systematization imposed by the media, they have fought for their individual headspace and independence. Moreover, they have honed in on their identity and developed a consciousness for their own qualities. They have established their own practice and do not want to be measured with the old. They react more sensitively to new social conditions, a new media environment and the art-historical relevance of their own educational institution. Themes and styles emancipate themselves equally.

Although not all of the artists in this exhibition live and work in Leipzig today, they all have one thing in common—their studies at the HGB. The success of both the New and the Old Leipzig School is largely responsible for this most recent generation’s achievement. Its protagonists reflect the traditions of the HGB and at the same time strive for “innovative forms of articulation”[4] in their most primal medium. Experimentation in painting and its historical reflection is part of their education. As students, they focus on the productive exploration of the academy’s legacy and the present. The traditional craftsmanship of their institution of education is transposed into modern times. As a direct result from the past’s reinterpretation, individual creative spaces ensue.[5] The artwork of professors such as Astrid Klein, Neo Rauch and Heribert C. Ottersbach contrasts greatly with that of their students. A handful of these young artists have pursued the tradition of the New Leipzig School by reproducing the mystical atmosphere of Neo Rauch’s paintings or by reflecting on painting by means of a conceptual approach, as in the work of Heribert C. Ottersbach. The influence of photography and consequently the work of Astrid Klein is also unmistakable. Some individuals have abandoned the characteristic figuration of the Leipzig School and turned to pure abstraction. After all, abstraction or reduction suits our present times, saturated with media and overflowing with both images and language. While still others achieve a synthesis of figuration and abstraction.

The young Leipzig artists are characterized by a high level of craftsmanship, versatility and artistic intelligence. As artists, they all explore themes of painting, figuration and abstraction in individual, compelling ways. However, the subject matter can be quite varied. For as long as we live in a world that is constantly changing, painting will never stand still. Often the subject emerges through the painting process. The paint is applied and with it, step by step, the artist’s unique creative world. The concept is often painting itself. What paintings can and should accomplish and what material they can reveal are reflected in many variants.

In Kristina Schuldt’s strong female figures, for example, we encounter this play with materiality. Her voluminous depictions combined with a striking and pop color palette convey bold, mannerist body forms, which she creates by lengthening, bending and exaggerating. Sebastian Burger, in turn, focuses on the physical properties of materials. In doing so, he fragments his motifs and plays with the perception of the viewer.

Malte Masemann’s paintings, inspired by photographs, are intended to be realistic. However, their coloration strongly alienates them from reality. In comparison, the works of Markus Matthias Krüger seem hyper-realistic, and yet they are completely constructed. One cannot shake the feeling of strangeness and disaster. Surrealism or landscape painting? The works can be categorized somewhere between these two poles. We see no people in either Krüger or Titus Schade’s work. We sense that they are present, but no one appears. All of them tell us stories, and they all studied with Annette Schröter or with the master storyteller Neo Rauch. Furthermore, Titus Schade’s works look as if they originated from theater sets. Robert Seidel’s portraits might well be from a 1990s computer game.

In Sebastian Nebe’s work, monochrome, gloomy forest scenes are brought to the fore. These are always influenced by human chaos. Benedikt Leonhardt finds his motifs in digital processes and explores painting as a medium itself—a process that leads to abstraction. The influence of Astrid Klein’s photography is evident in both Leonhardt’s and Nebe’s work. Johannes Daniel works in a similar way, exploring the representational potentials of the 21st century. Like all artists of this generation, he is strongly influenced by digital media and its practice automatically flows into his painterly reflections.

In Henriette Grahnert’s work, lines, fractures, curves and splashes of color suggest a complexity within simplicity. Her work is characterized by an intricate interplay of order and chaos. It is abstract and yet sensual in its own way. Maria Schumacher integrates abstract forms into composed spaces, which are created in a series of changing processes. In this context, Claus Georg Stabe’s process is also significant. By means of repetition, he combines lines into fields of color, resulting in repeated superimpositions and disruptions rendering the fragility of his work visible.

The Leipzig School does not possess a uniform style, but rather an equal juxtaposition of different stylistic forms. Its art is not the work of a collective, quite the contrary. They are opposites, antipodes, which are set apart from each other, and yet never stray far from one another. What truly counts is that, in the end, the result is always a painting that is able to tell its own story.

[1] Frank Zöllner, “Die Leipziger Schule. Karriere eines ungeliebten Etiketts,” ARTMAPP 8, (2015): 18.

[2] See Hans-Werner Schmidt, “Fabelhafte Welt der Leipziger Malerei,” in 60/40/20. Kunst in Leipzig seit 1949, ex. cat., Leipzig, eds. Karl-Siegbert Rehberg und Hans-Werner Schmidt, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig 2009: 216.

[3] See Carolin Modes, Die Neue Leipziger Schule. Eine akteurzentrierte Diskursanalyse, Munich, 2008: 133.


[4] Astrid Klein/Ralf F. Hartmann, Experimentelles Arbeiten in der Klasse für Bildende Kunst, in Update. Junge Kunst aus Leipzig, ed.

Constanze Treuner, Leipzig, 2011: 8.

[5] Ibid.


Excerpt from the Laudatio for "Menage à Trois"

by Mark Gisbourne

While we can often talk of group exhibitions in generic terms, in the case of three hander (three artists) exhibition, so to speak, with distinctly different artists as are presented to us here, we must find a visual nub, a point of aesthetic synthesis, an intellectual and emotive force that unifies in some way the photographic practice of Claus Rottenbacher (b. 1965), in the use of light art and its installation of Susan Rottenbacher (1969), and the paintings, and media cinema concerns of Sebastian Nebe who is of a different generation (1982).


I want to reinforce the idea of synthesis, since it is the prelude to all forms of the German Aesthetic philosophy of art, beginning with its first use as an art related term by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714-1762) Aesthetica (1750), and reformulated through Immanuel Kant’s writings in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), and the Critique of Judgement (1790) who redefined and substantiated aesthetics as the experience of artistic pleasure, as a doctrine of sensibility that is true science. And for Kant, all aesthetic judgment is subjective in that it relates to the internal human feelings of pleasure or displeasure and not to any qualities external to the object. An idea further grounded and expanded upon by Georg Friedrich Hegel, in his oral lectures Vorlesungen über die Aesthetik as transcribed by his students in Berlin in 1820/21, 1823, 1826 and 1828/29. This will of course shape much of aesthetic thinking that has pre-occupied the German consciousness as expressed by Fichte and Schiller and the Schegel brothers (August and Friedrich), the latter who of course defined the term Romanticism (1811), an attitude of sensibilities to aesthetic culture carried further by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Whether you speak of 19th century academic painting, the proto-expressionism of Lovis Corinth, various forms of German Expressionism(s) that passage the 20th century, Bauhaus and Konkret Kunst, even realism all contend upon the continuous ground of a synthetic sensibility. This is why we can still say (somewhat loosely today) that we still live in the Romantic Age, that our attitudes to artistic experiences are framed by the immediacy of our subjective sensibilities.


(Greek aisthetikos „of or for perception by the senses, perceptive,“ of things, „perceptible,“ from aisthanesthai „to perceive”)


You might ask why I have digressed into this now distant discursive origin, well strangely you can argue that each of these artists owe a debt to a sense of Romanticism by means of their practice. Though the innovations may have been in some instances technological, the uses have been nonetheless mediated through subjective sensibilities. For photography was born under the sway of the Romantic period, with the daguerreotype first patented in 1839 (and the “calotype” in 1841 by William Henry Fox Talbot, using paper coated with silver iodide), equally film and lighting systems saw their inception during the revival of a melancholic Romantic thought under Symbolism and Jugenstill (Art Nouveau) at the end of the 19th century. Artificial light, i.e., electricity was central to the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, first ever “Expo” was powered by electricity, which was used to decorate all the buildings with incandescent lights, that is to say, perhaps, the first artistic use of light for the purposes of an aesthetic installation. The age of Edison (General Electric) and Nikola Tesla (Westinghouse system) had therefore begun.


What photography drew upon from the beginning was the principle of light in darkness, a point of light entering an enclosed dark chamber. The camera obscura (known it seems by inference in antiquity by Aristotle), and reinvented by Giambattista della Porta in the 16th century, before the advent of the mechanical camera in the 19th century. Hence from the outset the language of photography was deemed cosmological, the universe is a black void filled with points of light (stars), people often forget the Sun is a star and hence our primary light source, and the language of photography from the outset used the language of the cosmos. It is why we speak and use metaphors of “film or movie stars” a medium that adopted the cosmological language of spatial movement and light. This is particularly so in the work of Claus Rottenbacher who still uses the traditional analogue system. Walter Benjamin in his famous Passagenwerk (Arcades Project) and his Short History of Photography, infers this principle at the fundamental level of light entering darkness, and, is perhaps, he intimates provocative;y the oldest of all art forms. Think of the history of light and shadow. Equally in this 1931 text Benjamin points out how the demise of ‚aura‘ first occasioned by film has been reversed by the Hollywood studio system, that a spurious, new ‚aura‘ is generated in the form of the cultish adoration of movie stars and ‚ „the spell of the personality.“ Even the use of the term “aura” by Benjamin infers light and a sense of pervasive awareness.

Note Bene: The language of digital technology is epidemiological. Discuss !!

Let’s speak then of the three artists whose works express in their different ways the aesthetic Romanticist issues of darkness and light. (…)


(…) In regard to painting we need hardly mention the obvious relationship between darkness and light, for it has permeated the last five centuries of Western painting. Whether we are speaking of the compositionally posed lighting of the Renaissance, theatrical chiaroscuro of the Baroque, the pastoral wistful and diffused light of the hedonistic Rococo, through to the movement totally dedicated to light, namely Impressionism. Yet for the painter Sebastian Nebe, it is the light of the German Romantics such as Caspar David Friedrich, perhaps, Philipp Otto Runge, and Joseph Anton Koch that has fascinated him. As the artist suggested to me his work seeks to reinvigorate this tradition and renew its meaning in the contemporary moment. The uses of darkness and light is as I have suggested an essential of the Romantic psyche, whether we speaking of early heroic Romanticism, or its later melancholy versions, the subsequent residue of which fed into Kierkegaard’s existentialism, the daily drama of diurnal transition, day to night, night to day, dawn and sunset, are amongst some of the most powerful psychical tropes of Romanticism.


For example the Nebe’s series of paintings entitled Große Dämmerung, (Great Dawn 2018) Sommerabend (der Abschied), (Summer Evening, The Farewell), Morgenrot IV (Daybreak) Felsental (dunkle Nacht) (Felsental, Dark Night) Winternacht (Winter Night) all oil paint on paper dating from this year, 2021, each referring to the psychical light to darkness transitions of our daily lives—those preemptive hypnogogic and hypnopompic reveries. With the advent of the post-industrial age, a certain sense of Romantic sentiment has equally created an industrial sense of nostalgia. (Bernd and Hilla Becher) Hence the junkyard or car graveyard in Senastian Nebe’s paintings take on it own sense of Romantic drama and melancholy. We should note that the Industrial Revolution ran of course in direct parallel to the development of Romanticism. We might think that the large diptych or paired images of Blende (2017), immersed in the forest setting, which has been materially violated, is a critique of the modern throwaway material age. Certainly, a lot of artist-painters who have recently revived German Romanticism, are conscious of the current view of the environment, and have used it as a critical form of expression pointing to our increasingly polluted violations of the natural world (Clemens Tremmel). Equally his series called BOY (2020) is an image of a rather nostalgic “out of time” motorboat, and plays upon the singular or isolated object, yet another reference, perhaps, to Casper David Friedrich and Romantic trait that stresses a particular viewing position and intensified singularity of focus. The singular object is extended in a work called Duene (2017), an anonymous yet singular period sports car, or if we see a human figure they are invariably lost in introspection, another obvious characteristic that runs throughout Romanticism. Therefore we might argue that the play of darkness and light, of the singular and introspective gaze, is the present perpetuum mobile of Nebe’s work.


To lead us back to where we began with Kant’s observation that “all aesthetic judgment is subjective in that it relates to the internal human feelings of pleasure or displeasure and not to any qualities in an external object.” In other words art produces affect, and not just effect (effect might be shock or wonder or awe) but affect is the emotional internalization of a response. This was an idea crucial to Romanticism, the distinctions of the “sublime”, perhaps, the most important new aesthetic contribution realized in that age. Indeed it separates a distinct understanding between the two original sources of Romanticism, the English and the German, while the former is about the power and wonder of nature (think of William Turner), German Romanticism is the affective internalization of nature, an assimilation more than mere observation (NATUR), i.e., Naturphilosophie. One might rush to Nietzsche at this moment, for the tragic soul has certainly had a lasting effect on German history, and as a result defined it in the terms of darkness and light..



A Walk Through
the Image

by Ana Dimke

The genre of landscape painting has always been used to present fantastic image spaces. Ever since romanticism, we have become acquainted with the idea of strolling into these pictures. And thanks to romantic irony, we are also acquainted to being in awe of our own thoughts and feelings, but with a smirk.

“Die Stille” (“The Silence”), “Die Höhle” (“The Cave”), “Die Insel” (“The Isle”), “Die Wälder” (“The Woods”) are titles of works by Sebastian Nebe, and they show exactly what they promise. I am drawn into a painting of a forest. Lured into visiting an exhibition by the literary pun “Romantischer Egoist” (“Romantic Egoist”), I find my way blocked by “Die Schwarze Hütte” – a huge, dark and real black lodge – before my gaze gets lost in the “Dämmerung” (“Twilight”). The space is filled with the promise that these places could be found in real life. Reminiscences of forest walks come to my mind. These hikes always had something magical and at the same time disenchanting about them; in our times, what we discover in nature are rarely wild animals, amazing plants or fresh springs, but rather traces of civilisation, waste left behind. These things, these facts of life and their remains bear witness to existence. Could this be a hint at a return? In his paintings, Sebastian Nebe captures the morbidly familiar with great atmosphere and with obvious consideration for physical effects. At the same time, he creates a mental distance to elements of drama through calculated references to art history. Meanwhile, the gaze trails off into the black and white images, sporadically intercut by patches of colour that mark the sky or a piece of tarpaulin. The ironic take on these scenes, mixed with what might be a pleasure in decay, are defining elements of these mood landscapes and connect the artist with romantic painting.

Traditions always have to be reinvented. This is not only true for the visual arts in general, but also for art academies. That this endeavour can be successful is testified by graduates like Sebastian Nebe. The Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts is closely associated with first-rate painting, and thus it is a good omen for the art world, and for us, with our 250 year history, to see that an artist like Sebastian Nebe can create such powerful tension and strong mental resonance with his pictures.

Some Thoughts
on the Tenth Winner of
the LVZ Art Prize

by Hans-Werner Schmidt

Sebastian Nebe, the tenth winner of the Art Prize of the Leipziger Volkszeitung, was born in Blankenburg, Harz, in 1982. With reference to a popular cultural programme in central Germany, I pursue the thought “this should be in my Brockhaus encyclopaedia”, and thus I learn the following about the Harz: “The H. rises through a series of plateaus from SE (Lower H.) to NW (Upper H., → Brocken, up to 1,142 mamsl); its shape, with its steep ledges, stands in strong contrast to the surrounding mountains. In its western part, which is mostly covered with spruce woods, the surface structure of the deeply gorged mountain range is characterised by a main plateau at 600 mamsl (Clausthaler Hochfläche) and the mountains of the Brocken massif (granite) with average heights of 800–900 mamsl; by contrast, the Lower H. only has average heights of 350–500 mamsl, mixed and deciduous forests are common.”

The mountain ranges of the Harz appear on the horizons of Neo Rauch’s paintings, who grew up in Aschersleben. Now, it is Sebastian Nebe’s turn to travel the “gorged mountains”. Since 2006, the “forest” has gained a dominant presence in his still young oeuvre. His preferred image carrier is paper – a wood product. The formats usually exceed the two metre mark. The immediacy of the perspective and the lack of an introductory foreground gives the pictures the impression that all it takes for you to enter the undergrowth is just a single step. The dense trunks, the branches bare of leafs and needles: in this shady zone the trees appear not at all inviting; to enter here demands a stern conviction. Sure-footedness is also required. Towering rock formations and heaps of rubble challenge your sense of orientation, as you try to safely make your way across the terrain, with no signs by the local tourist office designating recommended routes and providing distance and time information. Likewise, the parts of the sky which can be glimpsed through the dense network of trunks and branches appear as patches of light, not as signs that give any comfort. Mist and clouds add a pale nuance to the palette. Shades of red cannot be assigned to dusk or dawn without doubt. Even the thought of distant fires does not seem out of place in these scenarios. Then, the wanderer comes across piles covered in tarp – Nebe leaves us guessing what might be hidden underneath those covers. And then, at one point, the forest gives way to a small clearing, where a cabin claims its space between the mighty trees, under their heavy branches. But there is no romantic notion of a forester’s lodge at work here. The cabin is locked on all sides. In the worst case vandals might have gained an entry. It must be a startling moment for visitors when they find such a wooden building inside an exhibition space, a “black lodge” which denies any notion of “protection” and dismissively keeps its inner secret. And thus, in the situation of a public showing, people – here, the visitors to an exhibition – reenter Nebe’s work. It is of course at the liberty of the audience to research the stories that circulate about the Harz; they can certainly provide orientation in the undergrowth of possible meanings through an associative dialogue with Sebastian Nebe’s work.

Already in 2012, Sebastian Nebe, then master student of Astrid Klein, had presented an impressive position in the exhibition “NATUR 3d – Zeitgenössische Kunst im Dialog mit historischen Museumsbeständen” (“Nature 3d – Contemporary Art in Dialogue with Historical Pieces of the Museum Collection”) at the Museum der bildenden Künste. Now, I am pleased to see that he returns to the museum as the winner of the Art Prize of the Leipziger Volkszeitung.

Herfried Münkler has called one chapter of his book “Die Deutschen und ihre Mythen” (“The Germans and their Myths”) “The Morality of the Backwoodsmen”. He describes the moral code of the old Germans as rooted in the German forests. Sebastian Nebe could put the fear of God into Varus, too.

„Die innere Sicherheit“

Sebastian Nebe, Kunstkreis Hameln

by Ralf F. Hartmann

Es sind die heiligen Kernbereiche der deutschen Romantik des 19. Jahrhunderts, der Dschungel der großen Mythen, volkstümlichen Märchen und skurrilen Geschichten, in den der junge Maler Sebastian Nebe immer wieder als Entdecker und Forscher eindringt:

Dunkle Waldstücke, dämmrige Lichtungen und verfallene Ruinen auf der einen – der menschenleeren Seite – , heitere Szenen jugendlicher Ausgelassenheit, inniger Liebe und treuer Freundschaft auf der anderen – der sozialen. Sebastian Nebe spannt damit – es ganz den Großmeistern der bildenden Kunst und Literatur zwischen 1800 und 1830 gleichtuend – ein dialektisches Panorama zwischen Gesellschaft und Isolation, zwischen Teilhabe und Eskapismus auf, das im Jahr 2016, lange nach dem Ende der Moderne – nach Rationalismus, Sachlichkeit und der Verteufelung alles Erzählerischen in der bildenden Kunst – einigermaßen befremden muss:

Denn um den Menschen als empfindsames und soziales Wesen, als gleichermaßen romantische Seele wie politisches Subjekt geht es in nahezu allen malerischen, filmischen und installativen Arbeiten Sebastian Nebes scheinbar geradezu so, als hätte es das 20. Jahrhundert mit seinen maßgeblichen Veränderungen, technischen Revolutionen und verheerenden Katastrophen eigentlich nicht gegeben. Und dennoch wird in jeder seiner künstlerischen Arbeiten, seien sie auch noch so sensibel und einfühlsam, so deskriptiv wie hintersinnig, eines in aller Radikalität deutlich: Es ist die unmittelbare Gegenwart, die Lebenswirklichkeit einer jungen Generation, die der eigentliche Hauptuntersuchungsgegenstand seiner künstlerischen Praxis ist. Radikal zeitgenössisch sind die in der Ausstellung „Die innere Sicherheit“ zu sehenden Arbeiten vielleicht gerade deshalb, weil der Künstler sich selbst, seine eigene subjektive Biographie immer wieder zum Anlass des Arbeitens nimmt, so als gäbe es all die übergeordneten großen Themen der Welt nicht, sondern kreiste letztlich alles um das eigene Leben, die Verortung des Selbst in einer heutigen, scheinbar fremden Welt, deren soziale Kälte und abweisende Oberfläche im Grunde keine Rolle spielt. Nichts weist zunächst darauf hin, dass seine Kunst sich kritisch mit der Gegenwart auseinandersetzt, sich den politischen, ökonomischen und sozialen Spannungen unserer postindustriellen Welt widmen oder gar die Praxis künstlerischen Arbeitens im Dialog mit institutionskritischen oder medienanalytischen Diskursen selbst als obsolet gewordenes Tun disqualifizieren würde. Vielmehr sieht es auf den ersten Blick so aus, als sei da ein jugendlicher Vollblutmaler am Werk, der vielleicht ein bisschen schwermütig, zumindest aber melancholisch disponiert ist. Einer, der in Momenten ausgelassener Geselligkeit auch schon mal die Kamera auf sein engstes Lebensumfeld, auf Freunde bei Partys und feuchtfröhlichen Klassentreffen richtet, um für rein private Zwecke das zu dokumentieren, was scheinbar banal und gewöhnlich ist und somit nur schwerlich für eine repräsentative Öffentlichkeit taugt. Geradezu erschreckend offenherzig wirken solche Super-8-Filme zunächst, entblößend intim und alles andere als ausstellungstauglich. Zunächst, wohlgemerkt. Bedenkt man dann den Titel der Ausstellung „Die innere Sicherheit“ wird eine erste Spur der Analyse gelegt, geraten wir als Betrachterinnen und Betrachter auf eine beunruhigende Fährte von Fragen. Diese führen uns tiefer in jenen post-post-romantischen Dschungel, in die Verästelungen von etwas Dunkel-Ahnungsvollem und jene Nebel des Mythischen hinein, welche wir heutigen aufgeklärten Menschen nur allzu gern ausblenden und bisweilen ggfs. noch als Gruselfilm oder Splatter-Movie in unsere rationale Welt hineinlassen. Schon mit der Nomenklatur vieler seiner Bildtitel nimmt uns Sebastian Nebe gewissermaßen an die Künstlerhand, um uns näher an die eingangs erwähnten Kernbereiche des Romantischen heranzuführen:

„Die Höhle“, „Morgenlicht“ oder „Der neue Morgen“ – aber auch „Rückblende“, „Camp“ oder „Tage der Unschuld“ mögen verdeutlichen, was mit dem Romantischen gemeint ist:

Wie vor rund 200 Jahren geht es um Aufbruch und Verlassen, um dämmernde Verheißungen und vage Hoffnungen, um Geborgenheit und Sich-Preis-Geben, also um Sicherheit und Abenteuer gleichermaßen. Ein gewisses utopisches Potential schreibt sich sukzessive in die Titel der Arbeiten und ihre Bildwelten ein, der Anbruch einer neuen Zeit scheint angekündigt zu sein, und er ist offenbar mit dem Wunsch verbunden, Vergangenes zurück zu lassen, sich auf den Weg zu machen, Neues zu entdecken und die bestehenden Verhältnisse zu verändern.


Sebastian Nebe kam 1982 in Blankenburg, einer beschaulichen Kleinstadt am nördlichen Rand des Harzes in Sachsen-Anhalt zur Welt. Seine Kindheit und Jugend waren maßgeblich vom Ende der DDR und dem Beginn einer neuen Zeit geprägt. Dieser kolossale Epochenwechsel und seine Folgen haben sich motivisch in zahlreiche seiner feinsinnigen Bilder eingeschrieben, wenn zwischen den charakteristischen Waldstücken verlassene Gartenhäuser – die berühmten „Datschas“ -, zurück gelassene Schrottautos oder die Eingänge zu aufgegebenen Stollen beinahe signalhaft aufblitzen. Seine romantischen Wälder sind durchzogen von den weniger romantischen Reminiszenzen an den Zusammenbruch einer ganzen Gesellschaft, die – wie in den Dioramen naturkundlicher Museen – beinahe wie wissenschaftliche Beweismittel inszeniert werden, so, als gelte es den Lebensraum einer ausgestorbenen Spezies möglichst naturnah zu rekonstruieren:

Diese Natur aber ist bei Sebastian Nebe Schauplatz für eine Archäologie der individuellen wie der kollektiven Vergangenheit, seine Waldstücke sind gleichermaßen Startpunkt und Zielgerade einer „Sentimental Journey“ aus und zurück in die Kindheit und an die Stätten der subjektiven Bewusstwerdung. Immer wieder thematisiert der Künstler, was ihn selbst maßgeblich geprägt hat: Das familiäre Aufgehoben Sein, die Geselligkeit unbeschwerter Ferienaufenthalte auf dem Land, das Zusammensein mit Mitschülern und Freunden. Nun sind das zwar die zentralen Bezugsgrößen, derer wir uns alle gern erinnern, doch sind sie bei den meisten von uns nicht von den Zeichen des Zusammenbruchs durchsetzt. Das Wesen unserer Erinnerung ist die rückbesinnende Glättung, das Idealisieren häufig nicht einmal annähernd idealer Umstände und Bedingungen.


Was also gemeinhin als historische Verklärung begriffen werden kann, ist bei Sebastian Nebe ein kontinuierlicher Prozess der verunklärenden Erinnerung, das permanente Hinterfragen von Situationen und Atmosphären aus dem Bewusstsein der Gegenwart. In seiner Malerei, in Super-8-Filmen und auch in den scheinbar funktionslos gewordenen Relikten von Geselligkeitsmobiliar, wie Liegestühlen und Hollywood-Schaukeln, artikuliert sich eine grundlegende Skepsis gegenüber Romantisierung im Sinne von Glättung und Weichzeichnung. Nebes Bilder sind stattdessen hart kalkulierte Bestandsaufnahmen: sie sind oft als schwarze Farbzeichnungen auf weißem Papier angelegt, über die sich eine nicht selten bedrohlich und hoch artifizielle Farbigkeit legt. Die Morgenröte der Romantik avanciert zur gleißend-schrillen Ausleuchtung im Sinne eines von verschiedenen Scheinwerfern umstandenen Filmsets. Künstlichkeit tritt somit an die Stelle von Naturalismus, Inszenierung an die Stelle von Abbild. Nicht selten sind es ästhetische Kategorien des Films, die Nebes panoramatisch aufgespannte Bildwelten bestimmen. Aus natürlichem Licht wird Beleuchtung, aus dem singulären Blick wird die Sequenz von Bildern, aus einem natürlichen Motiv wird ein prononciert hergestellter Fremdkörper, der häufig – wie im Falle von ausgedienten Autos – weniger Motiv als vielmehr Akteur, also gewissermaßen Schauspieler in einem Bühnenstück oder Filmplot ist. Die Botschaften dieser minutiös inszenierten Akteure in einem ebenso minutiös arrangierten Bühnenbild oder Filmset bleiben indes unklar: Weder sind sie mahnende Schatten des Untergegangenen noch tragen sie eine romantische Botschaft des ‚Erhabenen im Ruinösen’ in sich. Vielmehr ist es ihre zentrale Aufgabe eine Differenz zu signalisieren, einen Unterschied zwischen verschiedenen Sphären, zwischen Bewusstseinsstufen und dem Grad der persönlichen Beteiligung. Darin wiederum ähneln sie Hauptwerken der romantischen Kunst des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts: Schon Caspar David Friedrich malte immer wieder – auch als er schon lange nicht mehr an der Ostsee, wo er geboren wurde, sondern im sächsischen Mittelgebirge um Dresden lebte – Segelschiffe und Seestücke. Auch Friedrich gerieten diese maritimen Projektionen nur wenig zu romantischen – im Sinne von sentimentalen – Erinnerungsmomenten, sondern sie formulierten gleichfalls ein Moment der Distanz, einen mit künstlerischen Mitteln herbeigeführten Akt der Abstraktion:

So wenig es Friedrich mit Segelschiffen und Eisschollen um die Rekonstruktion seiner eigenen biographischen Herkunft ging, so wenig ist auch bei Sebastian Nebe die Vergegenwärtigung der eigenen Geschichte allein biographische Notiz. Während Friedrich in seinen zahlreichen Seestücken immer wieder die Reise, das Aufbrechen in eine andere – in eine neue Welt – als Metapher für die beginnenden demokratischen Bewegungen in Europa verhandelte, begibt sich Sebastian Nebe auf die Reise in eine Neubewertung naturalistischer bzw. gegenständlicher Malereitraditionen unter den Vorzeichen der modernen Medien wie Fotografie und Film. Sein Blick auf Natur ist ein gefilterter: Ein Blick auf Wälder und Fluren, die als Schauplätze dramatischer Umbrüche und subjektiver Krisen deutlicher von Hitchcock, Pasolini und Lars von Trier definiert sind, als von Naturstudium, Plenair-Malerei oder Arbeiten vor dem Modell. Es ist dieser neuartige Zugriff auf klassische Sujets, der sich unter anderem auch in den Super-8-Filmen deutlich artikuliert, wenn im Sinne der Strategie des Re-Enactments – des Nach- bzw. Neuinszenierens zurück liegender Ereignisse – heutige Freunde und Studienkolleginnen zu Protagonistinnen und Protagonisten in einem Ambiente jugendlicher Unbekümmertheit avancieren, wenn an die Stelle von Kindheit und naiver Erinnerung eben die bewusste und zeitgenössische Perspektive des Künstlers auf die gefährliche – weil idealisierte Vergangenheit Anwendung findet.


Der erklärte Feind dieses Umgehens mit Geschichte, des präzisen Analysierens von Vergangenheit aus dem Wissen der Gegenwart – ist Nostalgie.

Nostalgisch sind Sebastian Nebes Bilder, seine Filme und Skulpturen niemals. Vielmehr schreibt er den Dingen in seinem gegenständlichen Kunstverständnis eine gewisse Signifikanz zu, macht er sie gleichermaßen zu Objekten der Beobachtung wie zu Subjekten der Analyse. Sie lassen Veränderungen nicht nur ablesbar werden, sondern sie sind selbst Instrumente der Veränderung. Sie verändern Erinnerung, sie verändern Verklärung. Sie manipulieren mit anderen Worten den Blick auf Sujets und Motive, auf unsere Vorstellungen von Romantik, auf unsere Visionen davon, was eine vermeintlich heile historische Welt ist.


In jedem hochgradig inszenierten Waldstück des Künstlers gibt es solche Indizien der Differenz: Seien es die Ruinen der untergegangenen DDR-Gesellschaft, sei es der zurück gelassene Müll der Wohlstandgesellschaft oder die halb zugewachsenen Stolleneingänge, die an die Geschichte der Umgebung von Blankenburg während der NS-Diktatur erinnern, als hunderte von Zwangsarbeitern dort kriegswichtige Güter produzieren mussten. Es kann ebenso gut ein mitten im Wald abgestellter VW-Golf als Sinnbild für die gleichnamige „Generation Golf“ sein, die im Jahr 2000 durch ein Buch von Florian Illies als genuss- und markensüchtig charakterisiert worden ist. Wiederum ruft ein roter Alfa Romeo-Sportwagen auf einem anderen Bild die Erinnerungen an die mondäne Filmkultur der späten 1960er Jahre herauf, einer Bezugsgröße, die für einen filmaffinen Künstler wie Sebastian Nebe, von besonderer Bedeutung ist.


Es sind solche komplexen Quellen, die sich Sebastian Nebe zumeist malerisch erschließt und aneignet, derer er sich in seiner Kunst versichert. Er findet mit diesen Rückversicherungen zu einer Sicherheit – nennen wir es ruhig einer „inneren Sicherheit“ – , die es ihm ermöglicht, mit künstlerischen und kunsthistorischen Traditionen umzugehen, ohne ihnen zum Opfer zu fallen und Gefahr zu laufen, ein hoffnungsloser Romantiker zu werden. Sebastian Nebes Romantik ist vielmehr eine höchst zeitgenössische und gegenwärtige. Sie ist dabei ebenso radikal, visionär und vielschichtig wie es jene der romantischen Künstler am Beginn des neuen, damals des bürgerlichen Zeitalters war.


  • 1982

    born in Blankenburg (Harz)

  • 2002 – 2005

    Studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Halle (Saale), Prof. Thomas Rug

  • 2005 – 2009

    Studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Leipzig, Prof. Astrid Klein

  • 2008

    studies at Glasgow School of Art

  • 2009


  • 2009 – 2012

    Postgraduate studies with Prof. Astrid Klein
    lives and works in Berlin

Grants and Prizes
  • 2013

    Kunstpreis der Leipziger Volkszeitung / Art Prize of the Leipziger Volkszeitung

  • 2008

    Auslandsstipendium der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes / Foreign exchange scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation, Glasgow School of Art

    Free mover Stipendium / Free Mover stipend, Glasgow School of Art

  • 2007

    Stipendium der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes / Grant of the German National Academic Foundation

Solo Shows
  • 2022

    When I’m not afraid to love, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

  • 2019

    Sommerhaus, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    Fühlen und Lenken (with Karl Goerlich), Barlach Halle K, Hamburg

  • 2018

    Im Osten nichts Neues (with Andreas Mühe), G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig

  • 2016

    Die Innere Sicherheit, der Kunstkreis, Hameln

    Always Crashing in the Same Car, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

  • 2014

    Sebastian Nebe, Salon Rauch, Hamburg

    You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense (with Olaf Bastigkeit), Kreuzberg Pavillion, Berlin

  • 2013

    Der Neue Morgen, 10. Kunstpreis der Leipziger Volkszeitung, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig

    l‘egoiste romantique (with Sebastian Burger), Centre D‘art Passerelle, Brest, France

  • 2012

    Still, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

  • 2011

    Der romantische Egoist (with Sebastian Burger), Kunstverein Tiergarten / Galerie Nord, Berlin

  • 2010

    Der geheime Garten der Nachtigall (with Claas Gutsche), Galerie Wagner und Partner, Berlin

    Die letzten Tage der Unschuld, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    Art Cologne (with Claudia Angelmaier), Galerie Kleindienst, Cologne

  • 2008

    Die schwarze Hütte, ZINGERpresents, Amsterdam

    Art Amsterdam, ZINGERpresents, Amsterdam

  • 2006

    Bungalow, ZINGERpresents, Amsterdam

Group Shows
  • 2022

    Neueste Leipziger Interventionen, Mittelrheinmuseum, Koblenz

  • 2021

    Menage à Trois, (with Claus Rottenbacher, Susanne Rottenbacher), Studio Rottenbacher, Berlin

  • 2020

    WIR HABEN GEÖFFNET, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    NEW II, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    Keine Schwellenangst!, Städtische Galerie, Bietigheim-Bissingen

    Antipoden? Neueste Leipziger Schule., Mädler Art Forum, Leipzig

  • 2019

    Natur als Argument, Kunstverein Bamberg, Bamberg

    DIE ZUKUNFT IST DAS NEUE DING, Kunststiftung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle (Saale)

    CIRCLUS, Thaler Originalgrafik, Leipzig

  • 2018

    Jahresendausstellung, Galerie Kleindienst, Franz-Flemming-Straße 9, Leipzig

    Lindenow #14 – Sondersausstellung DESTILLAT, im ehemaligen Neuen Kaufhaus Held, Leipzig

    bataillon d`amour, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    NGORONGORO II, Lehderstrasse 34, Berlin

    Vierundzwanzigmaldreissig, Thaler Originalgrafik, Leipzig

  • 2017

    Hundrede og tyve timer i København, Refshalevej 173A, Copenhagen, Denmark

    Künstler der Galerie / Artists of the Gallery, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    Corriger la Fortune, Galerie Nord / Kunstverein Tiergarten, Berlin

  • 2016

    Spectrum 2, about paper, Galerie Eigenheim Weimar/Berlin, Berlin

    Wintersalon, Galerie Kristine Hamann, Wismar

    Pentomino 3, Thaler Originalgrafik, Leipzig

    How to find true love and happiness in the present day, Bikini Berlin, Berlin

    Vor Ihnen, das Meer — resp. der Asphalt, die Schäden… , Labor Güntzstraße 34, Dresden

  • 2015

    Pentomino, Thaler Originalgrafik, Leipzig

    Thaler Originalgrafik auf AEG, Auf AEG, Nuremberg

    Gute Kunst? Wollen! SØR Rusche Sammlung Oelde/Berlin, Auf AEG, Nuremberg

    Turn My Water Into Wine, Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig

    21st Art Festival Ornö and Dresdner Biennale – Dresdner Biennale, Dresden

    WIN / WIN – Ankäufe der Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen 2015, Halle 14, Leipzig

    Vertraute Gesellschaft, Thaler Originalgrafik, Leipzig

    Aus der Tiefe des leipziger Raumes, Galerie Schloss Parz, Grieskirchen, Austria

  • 2014

    salondergegenwart, salondergegenwart, Hamburg

  • 2013

    Ohne Titel: Abstrakt – Konkret – Konstruktiv, Kunsthalle der Sparkasse Leipzig, Leipzig

    There is love in the air, but I‘m still full of fear (Stay tuned!), Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig

  • 2012

    Natur 3D – Zeitgenössische Kunst im Dialog mit historischen Museumsbeständen, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, Leipzig

    Unterwegs, 19. Leipziger Jahresausstellung, Westwerk, Leipzig

    Cer variabil, Collectors House, Heerlen, The Netherlands

    Meisterschülerausstellung, Academy of Visual Arts (HGB), Leipzig

  • 2011

    Wir Belohnen Sie, Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig

    After the Goldrush – Realistische Malerei des 21. Jahrhunderts aus Düsseldorf und Leipzig, Kunstverein Speyer, Speyer

    Celebrate Sebastian!, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    HotSpot Berlin. Eine Momentaufnahme, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin

    Convoy Leipzig, Biksady Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

  • 2010

    Der Blick von hier, Boulevard Parabol, Berlin

    Silent Revolution II – Painting and Photography from Leipzig, Kerava Art Museum, Kerava, Finland

    Schnittstelle Druck, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, Leipzig

    Schnittstelle Druck, Galerie der Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst / Academy of Visual Arts (HGB), Leipzig

  • 2009

    Never odd or even, Boulevard Parabol, Berlin

    Never odd or even II, Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig

    Diplomausstellung, Academy of Visual Arts (HGB), Leipzig

    Pulse New York, Galerie Kleindienst, New York

    Von der Wand in den Mund, Zug, Switzerland

    Edition Naehring #1, Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

  • 2008

    Drawcula, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    Dreams Reoccuring, Karl-Heine Straße, Leipzig

  • 2007

    Junge Kunst XII, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig

    Fermente – Positionen Junger Kunst, Maerzgalerie, Leipzig

    Those Quaint moments of Distress, montanaberlin Projekt, Berlin

    The Nature of Things, Art Rotterdam, ZINGERpresents, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

    Art Brussels, Galerie Kleindienst, Brussels, Belgium

    FIAC, ZINGERpresents, Paris, France

    NADA Miami, ZINGERpresents, Miami

  • 2006

    Reissbrettromantik, Plattform, Berlin

    bitten. danken. fluchen. grüßen. beten., Brunnenstraße, Berlin


Studio Request


Studio Sebastian Nebe
Lessingstr. 98
13158 Berlin



Gallery Contact


Galerie Kleindienst
Matthias Kleindienst
Spinnereistr. 7 Haus 3/11
04179 Leipzig
Fon + Fax: +49 341 4774553





Concept and design: Lamm & Kirch

Concept and coding: Mario Helbing



Uwe Walter, Berlin, Germany

anna.k.o., Berlin, Germany

Matthias Knoch, Leipzig, Germany

PUNCTUM Stefan Hoyer, Leipzig, Germany

Nicolas Ollier, Brest, France



© Sebastian Nebe and the authors

All rights reserved. The copyright for any material published on this website is reserved.




Haftung für Inhalte

Die Inhalte unserer Seiten wurden mit größter Sorgfalt erstellt. Für die Richtigkeit, Vollständigkeit und Aktualität der Inhalte können wir jedoch keine Gewähr übernehmen. Als Diensteanbieter sind wir gemäß § 7 Abs.1 TMG für eigene Inhalte auf diesen Seiten nach den allgemeinen Gesetzen verantwortlich. Nach §§ 8 bis 10 TMG sind wir als Diensteanbieter jedoch nicht verpflichtet, übermittelte oder gespeicherte fremde Informationen zu überwachen oder nach Umständen zu forschen, die auf eine rechtswidrige Tätigkeit hinweisen. Verpflichtungen zur Entfernung oder Sperrung der Nutzung von Informationen nach den allgemeinen Gesetzen bleiben hiervon unberührt. Eine diesbezügliche Haftung ist jedoch erst ab dem Zeitpunkt der Kenntnis einer konkreten Rechtsverletzung möglich. Bei Bekanntwerden von entsprechenden Rechtsverletzungen werden wir diese Inhalte umgehend entfernen.


Haftung für Links

Unser Angebot enthält Links zu externen Webseiten Dritter, auf deren Inhalte wir keinen Einfluss haben. Deshalb können wir für diese fremden Inhalte auch keine Gewähr übernehmen. Für die Inhalte der verlinkten Seiten ist stets der jeweilige Anbieter oder Betreiber der Seiten verantwortlich. Die verlinkten Seiten wurden zum Zeitpunkt der Verlinkung auf mögliche Rechtsverstöße überprüft. Rechtswidrige Inhalte waren zum Zeitpunkt der Verlinkung nicht erkennbar. Eine permanente inhaltliche Kontrolle der verlinkten Seiten ist jedoch ohne konkrete Anhaltspunkte einer Rechtsverletzung nicht zumutbar. Bei Bekanntwerden von Rechtsverletzungen werden wir derartige Links umgehend entfernen.


Statistische Auswertung mit Piwik

Diese Website benutzt Piwik, eine Open-Source-Software zur statistischen Auswertung der Besucherzugriffe. Piwik verwendet sog. “Cookies”, Textdateien, die auf Ihrem Computer gespeichert werden und die eine Analyse der Benutzung der Website durch Sie ermöglichen. Die durch den Cookie erzeugten Informationen über Ihre Benutzung dieses Internetangebotes werden auf dem Server des Anbieters in Deutschland gespeichert. Die IP-Adresse wird sofort nach der Verarbeitung und vor deren Speicherung anonymisiert. Sie können die Installation der Cookies durch eine entsprechende Einstellung Ihrer Browser Software verhindern; wir weisen Sie jedoch darauf hin, dass Sie in diesem Fall gegebenenfalls nicht sämtliche Funktionen dieser Website vollumfänglich nutzen können.



Die durch die Seitenbetreiber erstellten Inhalte und Werke auf diesen Seiten unterliegen dem deutschen Urheberrecht. Die Vervielfältigung, Bearbeitung, Verbreitung und jede Art der Verwertung außerhalb der Grenzen des Urheberrechtes bedürfen der schriftlichen Zustimmung des jeweiligen Autors bzw. des Erstellers. Downloads und Kopien dieser Seite sind nur für den privaten, nicht kommerziellen Gebrauch gestattet. Soweit die Inhalte auf dieser Seite nicht von uns erstellt wurden, werden die Urheberrechte Dritter beachtet. Insbesondere werden Inhalte Dritter als solche gekennzeichnet. Sollten Sie trotzdem auf eine Urheberrechtsverletzung aufmerksam werden, bitten wir um einen entsprechenden Hinweis. Bei Bekanntwerden von Rechtsverletzungen werden wir derartige Inhalte umgehend entfernen.



Die Nutzung unserer Webseite ist in der Regel ohne Angabe personenbezogener Daten möglich. Die Betreiber der Seiten behalten sich ausdrücklich rechtliche Schritte im Falle der unverlangten Zusendung von Werbeinformationen, etwa durch Spam-Mails, vor.