Unlike other prominent painters from what has come to be famously known over the past decade as the New Leipzig School, Lehner grew up in West Germany and didn’t feel the need to relate to the culture and history of Communism. Although the core of Lehner’s practice relies on the appropriation of artistic styles taken from the rich pool of the twentieth century Western tradition, more than any other artistic movement, Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s in America constitutes his major influence. More than telling stories, Lehner aims at painting “what he sees” and thereby evokes feelings and atmospheres rather than narrative plots. Once a chorus member and son of a musicians’ family, Lehner creates large- scale canvases that expend in space like symphonies of colors and shapes.
Although his compositions convey at first a sense of chaos, they consequently emerge from the patient and highly ingenious articulation of different formal systems. Geometrical shapes, grids and patterned areas inspired in the realm of computer graphics and advertisements are playfully inserted or set against each other in order to create perspectival depth and a sense of visual acceleration. Yet in so doing Lehner employs more than just lines and shapes; layering and rubbing the surface of the paintings allows him to turn the creative process itself into the content of his paintings, thus capturing time itself.
As Emmanuel Post writes, “Lehner’s idiosyncratic images evolve within the dialectic of opulent chaos and a clear will to order.”
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