The Paintings of Martin Stommel
Born in 1969, Martin Stommel is a German contemporary painter whose dramatic and suspenseful compositions are a statement on the restlessness of the world. He first studied at Munich’s State Art Academy from 1994 to 1997 under Professor Bernhard Franz Weißhaar (Weisshaar), the academy’s Chair of Christian Art from 1978 to 2000. Stommel entered Berlin’s University of Arts, HdK, in 1998 where he studied under landscape painter and graphic artist Klaus Fußmann (Fussmann).
During the span of his academic studies, Stommel also trained under Russian painter and dissident Boris Georgievic Birger. Birger widely exhibited in Russia during the 1950s to the 1970s. After he joined the human rights movement, he was expelled in 1962, under the influence of Communist Party leader Nikita Khruschev, from the Moscow Union of Artists. Birger emigrated in 1990 to Bonn, Germany where he taught and exhibited until his death in 2001. Through his association with Birger, Stommel met several international artists, including Russian writer Lev Kopelev, German author and journalist Fritz Pleitgen, and Russian cellist Natalia Gutman.
In 2000, Martin Stommel met Austrian-born art historian and theorist Sir Ernst Gombrich in London. The author of many works of both cultural and art history, Gombrich is noted for his 1950 “The Story of Art” and 1960 “Art and Illusion”, a major work in the psychology of perception which influenced such writers as Umberto Eco and Thomas Kuhn. Gombrich encouraged Stommel towards figurative work and, during his last years of life, engaged in an exchange of supportive letters.
Stommel’s work exhibits the same bold brushwork and use of perspective as that used by sixteenth-century Venetian painter Jacopo (Tintoretto) Robusti, as well as, the intensity found in the figurative paintings of German modernist Max Beckmann who reinvented the religious triptych form. Stommel uses strong lighting techniques, carefully chosen colors, energetic diagonal movement, and elongated gestural bodies to create powerful visual experiences of tension and drama. His figures, rarely static, are full of energy and accentuated by bold black lines of pronounced shading
Between the years 2001 and 2007, Martin Stommel created a series of paintings and drawings of circus scenes as well as portraits of circus performers. His portraits included such famous clowns as the white-faced Francesco Caroli, Oleg Popov of the Moscow Circus, and David Larible known for his performances with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as well as Bernhard Paul and André Heller’s Circus Roncalli. Stommel’s circus portraits, along with still lifes and landscapes, were shown in his first solo exhibition in 2003 at the Museum Charlotte Zander in Bönnigheim, Germany. In the next year, he presented his circus paintings in the Principality of Monaco at the invitation of Prince Rainier III and his illustration series for the “Divine Comedy” at the Stadtmuseum in Bonn.
Stommel has regularly exhibited in solo shows throughout the years. In 2013, he exhibited at the Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg which was followed by two shows at Frankfurt’s Galerie Mühlfeld & Stohrer in 2014 and 2015. Stommel’s “Lust and Expectation”, inspired by the world of dance, was held in 2019 at Gallery 70 in Tirana, Albania. In 2020, he had a second solo show at the same Gallery 70 location which showed large-format works, among which was his 2018 “Amazonenkampf (Fight of Amazons)”, a densely painted martial work of warriors and horses. Stommel’s 2022 “On Deliverance” exhibition, a series of works on the turmoil in the world, ran from April to July at Berlin’s Janine Bean Gallery, a dedicated supporter of local contemporary art.
Martin Stommel’s work has also been exhibited at the Kallmann Museum at Ismaning, Germany; Museum am Dom Trier, Germany; Cologne’s Lew Kopelew Forum; Munich’s Katholische Akademie in Bayern; Monaco’s Théâtre Princesse Grace; the Venice Biennial; as well as many galleries and art fairs in London, Cologne, Berlin, Lübeck and Munich, among others.
Notes: Martin Stommel’s website with current exhibition and contact information is located at: http://martin-stommel.deadwings.de/de
A short video in which Martin Stommel discusses his work can be found in the videos category at Gallery 70’s YouTube site located at: https://www.youtube.com/@gallery70/videos
Second Insert Image: Martin Stommel, “Jesus Asleep”, 2022, Oil on Linen, 260 x 175 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Martin Stommel, “Amazonenkampf (Fight of Amazons)”, 2018, Oil on Linen, 220 x 240 cm, Private Collection