geboren / born 1972 in Wesseling am Rhein, D
lebt und arbeitet in Köln und Berlin, D / livesandworks in Cologne and Berlin, D


2001-2004 Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, D; Meisterschüler Prof. Rosemarie Trockel / Master pupilwith Rosemarie Trockel
1997–2001 Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig (John Armleder), Braunschweig, D

Awards &Scholarships

2015/2017 CCA Andratx, Mallorca, ES
2014 Günther-Peill-Stipendium, Düren, D
2009 Grafikpreis des Landes NRW, D
2007 Arbeitsstipendium der / grantofthe Stiftung Kunstfonds, Bonn, D
Förderpreis des Landes NRW für junge Künstlerinnen und Künstler, D
2004 Atelierstipendium / grantof Kölnischer Kunstverein und / and Imhoff-Stiftung, Cologne, D
Peter Mertes Stipendium, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, D
2001–2004 Studienstipendium des / grantoftheCusanuswerkes Bonn, Bonn, D

Selected solo exhibitions

2018 Tanja Pol Galerie, Munich, D
2016 ‘Nachen’, Galerie Isa, Mumbai, IND
‘Strandspaziergang’, Leopld-Hoesch Museum, Düren, D
‘Von Meeren und Flüssen’, Tanja Pol Galerie, Munich, D
2015 ‘hören was zusehen’, Kunstverein Oldenburg, D
Marian Boesky Gallery, New York, USA
2014 ‘I wish my pictures’, SprüthMagers Berlin, D
2013 ‘more than anything’, Tanja Pol Galerie, Munich, D
2012 ‘development’SprüthMagers Berlin, Berlin, D (Kat./Cat.)
2009 ‘VollesProgramm’, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, USA
‘grenzübergang’, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, D
2008 ‘Antriebswelle’, Sprüth Magers, London, GB
‘des bien ich’, Sprüth Magers, Cologne, D
Förderpreisausstellung für Bildende Kunst des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (mit / with Manuel Graf), Reichsabtei Aachen-Kornelimünster, Aachen, D
2007 ‘Elfgen-Technik versenden und empfangen’, Samsa, Berlin, D
2006 ‘wie man wird, was man ist’, Sprüth Magers Projekte, Munich, D
‘Expedition’, westlondonprojects, London, GB
2005 ‘1+1=3 Elfgen Technik’, Peter Mertes Stipendium, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, D(Kat./Cat.)
2003 ‘Raumtaucher’, Simultanhalle, Cologne, D (Kat./Cat.)
‘Raumtaucher’, Screening, Hafenlichtspiele Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, D
1999 Kulturzentrum Antwerpen, Antwerp, BE

Selected groupexhibitions

2018 Spiritus Familiaris, Fata Morgana, Berlin, D
2017 Shaping Space, Galerie Isa, Mumbai,IND
2016 ‘Der gestiefelte Kater (Puss in Boots), MVP New York, USA
2015 ‘aintil rom – Exposiziun a Lavin’, ChasaBastiann, CHE
‘There is no out there out there’, Tanja Pol Gallery, Munich, D
2014 ‘L’avventura – Die mit der Liebe spielen’, A+B contemporaryart, Brescia, IT
‘Slapstick!’, LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz, AT
‘PAPERWORLDS. Kinder- und Jugendzeichnungen zeitgenössischer Künstler’, meCollectorsRoom Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht, Berlin, D
2013 ‘SILENT’, Avlskarl Gallery, Copenhagen, DK
‘Slapstick!’, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, D
‘Collage’, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, FR
2012 ‘Rheinland’, curatedby Uta M. Reindl, Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid, ES
‘Plaisirs du Jardin (mit/with Michail Pirgelis, Stephanie Stein)’, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, D
‘abc – artberlincontemporary’, Station Berlin am Gleisdreieck, Berlin, D
2011 ‘Kunst-Stoff. Textilien in der Kunst seit 1960’, Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe, D
‘MORGEN’, ProvinzEditionen, Bochum, D
‘Scoopers’, Screening Image Movement at Oslo10, Basel, CH
‘Winter in America’, Tanja Pol Galerie, Munich, D
2010 ‘DIE FUGE – Portrait II’, Floreria Flor-art, Buenos Aires, AR
Jahresgaben 2010/2011, Der Kunstverein, seit 1817., Hamburg, D
2009 ‘Ausgezeichnet! – Der Grafikpreis NRW 2009’,Reichsabtei Aachen-Kornelimünster, Aachen, D
2008 ‘Paul Thek. Werkschau im Kontext zeitgenössischer Kunst’, (Gemeinschaftsarbeit mit / cooperationwith Kai Althoff), Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, D
2007 ‘Paul Thek. Werkschau im Kontext zeitgenössischer Kunst’, (Gemeinschaftsarbeit / cooperationwith mit Kai Althoff), ZKM – Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, D
‘Atelierstipendiaten des Kölnischen Kunstvereins’, Die Brücke, Cologne, D
‘Sicht Weisen – Kunst auf der Talachse’, Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Wuppertal, Wuppertal, D
2006 ‘Wo warst du! All Ambra’, Tiroler Künstlerschaft, Innsbruck, AT
‘Kunst-Aktion zur jungen Nacht 2006’, Aktion mit / with Helge Tscharn am Friesenplatz, im Rahmen der / in thecontextofkunst:dialoge am Museum Ludwig, Cologne, D
‘Lieber Friedrich’, Kunstverein Kassel, Kassel, D
2005 ‘Regarding Düsseldorf – Junge Kunst in Düsseldorf’, 701 e.V., Düsseldorf, D
‘Der Kunst ihre Räume’, Kunstverein Bonn, Bonn, D
‘Servus’, UNION, Cologne, D
‘Köln-Quartett 05’, Fuhrwerkswaage Kunstraum Köln, Cologne, D
‘Open Space 2005’, Art Cologne, Cologne, D
‘7’, SprüthMagers Lee, London, GB
‘RE-ESCAPE….))) )) ) )’, Galerie im Regierungsviertel, Berlin, D
2004 ‘Supra Caput Esse’, (mit / with Kai Althoff, Abel Auer, Armin Krämer), Corvi-Mora Gallery, London, GB
‘Akademierundgang’, Deutsche Bank Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, D
‘Djordjadze / Elfgen / Scheepers’, Sprüth Magers Projekte, Munich, D
Auf dem Berlich, Projektraum, Cologne, D
‘RUN-SPACES INTERNATIONAL’, Simultanhalle, Cologne, D
Rheinschau, Cologne, D
‘Für die Konstruktion des Unmöglichen’, European Kunsthalle, Cologne, D
2003 ‘Immer die beiden Anderen’, Neue Bügelei, Wuppertal, D
2002 ‘Lehrer / Schüler: Klasse Rosemarie Trockel’, Kunstverein Gelsenkirchen, Gelsenkirchen, D
2001 ‘Cusanus-Stipendiaten’, PasingerFabrik, Munich, D
2000 ‘Fahrvergnügen’, Klasse John Armleder, American Fine Arts Co., New York, USA
‘Generation Gold’, Haus Schwarzenberg, Berlin, D
1999 ‘Lovely Music Project’, Klasse John Armleder, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, D


Sammlung Goetz, München, D
Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA
Zabludovicz Collection, London, GB
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, D

Back Press Release

Robert Elfgen’s paintings, collages, sculptures and installations are affected by an associative handling of the materials the artist uses. Drawing upon the symbolic power of imagery, he creates unstable allegories that challenge the fixed nature of representation. For seemingly surrealistic collages, Elfgen combines found and reworked copies of photographs, fabrics, and paintings, developing visual interpretations of everyday life. In these stage-like constellations, humans and their contexts appear to be focused on the systems and rituals that constitute society. At no time do these intimate settings appear unambiguous, nor are they static: Elfgen’s peculiar and engaging language ensures that they remain floating; a disconcerting quality that evokes instability and separation.

In the large assemblages that Elfgen has started to produce in recent years, innerdisquiethas escalated into a whirring cacophony of noise. Although reality is still perceptible through the physical presence of collected objects, these works have given up their readability for the realisation of the polyphony of their various elements. Found traffic signs, broken fence posts, remnants of discarded mobile homes, surf sails and parasols interact with Elfgen’s paintings,provoking an oscillation between past and present, concrete and abstract, but also between the whole and the detail. Paintings of flora and fauna refer to the artist’sroots in rural West Germany, but they are also components of these complex installations.Elfgen’s persistent referencingof nature and his native landscape in his work is a recurring and important aspect ofhis practice.

Elfgen’stechnically innovative bricolage-art is of course not devoid of art-historical reference. His associative treatment of ‘objets trouvés’ recalls Marcel Duchamp; his strict conceptual logic is reminiscent of Rosemarie Trockel, who taught his masterclass. Clear allusions to the Romantic pictorial language of painters such as William Turner or Caspar David Friedrich, along with traces of a laconicism from Surrealism and Pop Art can also be identified in his work. All this notwithstanding,Elfgen’s artisanal investigations have lead him to achieve something attained by only a few artists –the creation of an utterly personal, unique cosmos. This cosmos opens up a series of spaces that demand biographical, phenomenological, and psychoanalytical interpretations. It is a cosmos in which nature and civilization merge into each other: one which enables the viewer to see the world in a new and subtle manner.

Under the title NachenElfgen will exclusively present a series of landscape paintings for Galerie Isa. In some, he worked actual plants into the paintings, carefully pressing them onto the surface, thereby addingcolours, shades and shadows that affect a deepening of the paintings’ perspectives. The twilight hues of these works lend them a mysterious, almost mystic character. In contrast, the other landscape paintings seem to dissolve into pure abstraction. Only a thin horizon line structures the space where highly diluted colours blend together and the grains of the wood backgrounds show through, suggesting formations of clouds, tree lines, and ocean waves. The exhibition title Elfgen has chosen introduces an additional and poetic readingof this ensemble. ‘Nachen’ denotes a flat, compact boat favoured by fishermen or used as a ferry. This simple vessel is propelled by rowing or punting – it does not move fast – and has come to be symbolic of tranquility and one-ness with nature  in landscape painting.

Robert Elfgen was born in 1972 in Wesseling am Rhein, Germany. He lives and works in Cologne. Elfgenstudied Fine Artat the University of Fine Arts in Braunschweig under the  renowned Swiss artist,John Armleder before transferring to the National Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf, where he completed his education and was awarded “Meisterschüler”(master scholar) of Rosemarie Trockel,the internationally acclaimed German artist and senior professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 2016 Elfgen was the recipient of the Peill Grant from the Leopold Hoesch Museum in Düren, where he opened his major institutional show in September 2016.