Born in Bavaria in 1944, the son of a Berlin film maker and dealer in Oriental
Antiquities, Stefan Beltzig attempted at first to turn his back on the
milieu in which he was raised, dropped out of school and joined a circus
as an acrobat. After leading the life of a vagabond, which enabled him to
travel in India and the Near East, he began to study art. From 1963 to 1964 he
worked at Shiraz and Isfahan in Iran where he took up ceramics and sculpture.
After a formal study of art and graduation from the Academy of Art in Munich with
First Prize in painting in 1973, he began to emphasize realism and trompe l'oeil-
effects in his works. From1979 on, his attention turned solely to drawing.
Stefan Beltzig seems to be drawn to environments in transition. His work often
depicts surroundings which are poised momentarily, yet hint of their transience.
Such is the case with his earlier still
lifes in which the memorialized detritus of daily consumption also speaks
of its impermanence.
A more extreme view of transience and flux is rendered
in Beltzig's Rwanda
of 1994 in which the chaotic, makeshift camp for displaced refugees
is by its very
nature a doomed environment - a way station containing within
the full spectacle
of life processes in extremis. In another cycle, Beltzig's
observations of old men in
cafe give the viewer a feeling of camaraderie within a small, closed
society and at the same time allude to a pace of life that will end not only with
passing-on of the men he depicts, but by the inevitable encroachment into
life of a faster-paced, frenetic world.
In an other cycle the
artist focuses on an urban environment in transition: New
York's meat-market. Nearly all the meatpacking industry has left that
site over the
last few years. Block-long iron constructions where once thousands
carcasses were hooked up onto slowly moving chains still over span
truck ramps and a few forgotten signs or faded advertisements
still bear witness
to the area's bloody, fetid past. Sidewalks in disrepair
and darkened buildings mark the twilight of a gritty neighborhood. Beltzig's drawings
delicately and hauntingly capture this locale: a gritty slice of New York and
an urban environment poised before its present near-glittering transformation.
In his latest cycle, "Palma,"
Beltzig depicts the end result of a transition, over centuries, of an old Mediterranean
city. Through unplanned growth lacking any overarching aesthetic, the rise of
these interchangeable, box-like building complexes have subsumed the unique character
of the city, leaving in its wake an environment devoid of history and visual distinction.
The urban skyline itself-squared-off forms of differing heights-seems to represent
a visual shorthand for the eviscerating process that has taken place: the architectural
drive toward homogenization and facelessness