Markus Fräger captured seemingly everyday scenes like snapshots. Yet the people depicted developed a life of their own in their poses, seeming to have fallen out of time in their gestures. The enigmatic scenes, which the artist collages from different levels of content and time, use pictorial quotations from art history, numerous own and found photographs, as well as illustrations from magazines and journals.
The Cologne artist and musician was born in 1959 in Hamm. Already in his youth he was engaged in painting, mediated by his father, the graphic artist and sculptor Wolfgang Fräger (1923-1983), who worked in the Unna district. In the late 1970s, he first sang in a rock 'n' roll band from Unna. In 1979, he passed the entrance exam at the Braunschweig University of Fine Arts. In Unna, however, he founded the rockabilly formation Alley Cats in 1980 with his brother and some musicians from Dortmund, which later became known as The Ace Cats with various singles and three albums. At the same time, Markus Fräger studied art history and archaeology at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster until 1986. Already in 1985 he left The Ace Cats and turned mainly to painting, but still staged some avant-garde pop projects. In his adopted home of Cologne, he last had his studio in a former vinegar factory, where he painted until his untimely death in 2020.
The exhibition at Schloss Cappenberg shows retrospectively the painterly work of Markus Fräger. He painted predominantly figurative, his dense scenes of almost old-master impression with strong light-dark contrasts are often set in inner cities and are reminiscent of both the tradition of genre painting and cinematographic film stills. Similar to a director, Markus Fräger puts his motifs in scene together. The composition of the figures as well as their gestures hint at a plot, which, however, does not coherently come together in the pictorial structure, but rather deliberately tells a story with loose ends on different time levels. Even after intensive viewing, the scenes remain enigmatic, some formal elements appear just as cryptic as the content - at points the structures show signs of dissolution and elude interpretation. Markus Fräger creates private and intimate moments of unconditional beauty and tender vulnerability that remind us of the transience of a seemingly captured moment.