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
artistic milieu in which he was raised, dropped out of school and joined a circus
troop 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 cycle
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
a Spanish 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 the
passing-on of the men he depicts, but by the inevitable encroachment into village
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 of animal
carcasses were hooked up onto slowly moving chains still over span the sidewalks;
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

June Bariton
Roberto White †