Gunter Christmann, 2022 | at The Commercial, Sydney


It is with great pleasure that The Commercial presents an exhibition of Gunter Christmann’s works from the late 1970s to early 1980s. Rubbish paintings, paintings of rubbish on the street, formed a core of the artist’s interests from this period. For Christmann, rubbish supplied “colours, forms and compositions that seemed to mirror all of man’s art”. These paintings provide a bridge of understanding linking Christmann’s earlier abstract and seemingly-abstract sprankle and dry-box/water tank works, with their elevation of process and their indebtedness to gravity and ground-consciousness, to his more overtly figurative paintings of later years. The rubbish paintings exemplify the artist’s insistence upon economy, working with chance and narrowed limitations.
The exhibition comprises ten rubbish paintings including major works on canvas alongside watercolours on paper. Christmann’s rubbish paintings are of universal relevance. Their freshness opposes the wearing away of form, identity, commodity, embedded in the cycling of energy and value within an urban ecology.


Gunter Christmann was born in 1936 in Berlin. He arrived in Australia in 1959 and died in Sydney in 2013. During the four-year period over which the artworks in this exhibition were created, Christmann exhibited at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, the Australian Embassy, Paris, the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, the inaugural Australian Perspecta at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, and Vision of Disbelief – the Fourth Biennale of Sydney also at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. His work featured in the landmark exhibition The Field at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1968 as well as The Field Revisited at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2018. In 2014, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, presented a fifty-year retrospective exhibition of Christmann’s work, Gunter Christmann: Now and Then, curated by Lesley Harding. The current exhibition is the fourth solo exhibition of Christmann’s work at The Commercial. It is presented in association with the Estate of Gunter Christmann and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.

Exhibition dates: 22/01/22 – 12/02/22