Gouache, 139 x 108 cm
In earlier works, Middendorf already painted scenes from big city life against a colourful, sometimes ominous background. "Handstand before a fiery cityscape" takes up this motif again. The roughly sketched zigzag line of the skyline of a large city takes up the entire background and, due to the dominance of black in combination with red, seems hostile to life. Sharply delineated from the city as a symbol of a seething and glowing world, Middendorf places an unclothed human figure in the foreground. His representation in abstract schematic form and the white-grey colouring make him a being without flesh and blood, which on the one hand stands out starkly from the background and on the other hand nevertheless belongs to it. Many of Middendorf's works reflect his fascination for movement and tension. Here, too, the contrast of colours and content creates a great pictorial tension. Against the dark glowing city in the background, the bright figure gives his own answer to the question of how one could possibly live in such a city. He does not sink into the darkness, but confidently takes up the entire foreground in a pose that comes unexpectedly - in a handstand. The lightness and carefree nature of this gesture diminishes the impact of the picture's atmosphere, even overcoming it. "Handstand before a fiery cityscape" is an expression of the attitude to life of Middendorf's generation. The painters of the "Neue Wilden" set a monument to urban life. The city served them as a living space and source of inspiration; it stood for an irrepressible hunger for life, the expression of wishes, the search for something new and the overcoming of barriers.
Helmut Middendorf (*1953 in Dinklage, Germany) is a very successful German artist and studied from 1973 to 1979 at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin with Karl Horst Hödicke, who is also shown at the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen. He is one of the most famous representatives of the Neue Wilden. Middendorf in particular was characterized by a great joy in experimentation, which included the study of various current artistic possibilities. His direct surroundings and his own world of experience inspire him to create his paintings. This also includes series of pictures which he realised in various colour combinations - life-affirming, with bright colours and striking lighting. In later works, he reduced the color, began to experiment again - also with new themes - and painted the series of "Black Pictures" at the end of the 1980s, probably as a result of a longer artistic stay in New York (scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service).
It would be far too brief to see Middendorf "only" as a painter: Already as a student, he was fascinated not only by painting, but also by the medium of film, to which he devoted himself just as intensively. In 1979 Middendorf took up a teaching position for experimental film at the Berlin University of the Arts.