german artist hendrik beikirch, also known by his alias “ecb”, creates eye-catching works of documentary and fictional portraiture that traverse the personal and the private. his distinctive monochromatic wall murals and interior works for galleries and museums confront viewers with richly storied subjects that fascinate through their sheer force of personality. at once anonymous, quotidian and enchanting in appearance – each of beikirch’s figures has a story to tell. more than mere subjects, we find in his works genuine characters, made all the more fascinating by their anonymity. the reduced color palette and striking contrasts that characterize beikirch’s portraiture underscore the vulnerability of his subjects, while the scale of these works invites viewers to consider the relationship between individual and society, viewer and subject, public and private.
looming large in the post-industrial cityscape, beikirch’s documentary works are studies in humanity. responding to cultural shifts in the perception of beauty brought about by the ubiquitous presence of digital media, beikirch rejects the sleek youthfulness that predominates in modern visual culture in favor of an aesthetic vision that couples painterly sensibility with the techniques of photorealism. the world-weariness, grit, and cautious optimism of his subjects imbue these works with a sense of the familiar. there is something reassuring to be found in the melancholy that radiates from these faces.
beikirch’s murals are not so much interventions in the urban landscape as they are our silent companions, reminders of our common humanity and representations of both actual individuals and the diverse populations of the modern city. roadside shadows, they command our attention; at times melancholic, other times brusque in their sensibility. the subjects of his fictional works are inspired by his imagination and do not adhere to human proportions, instead they are distorted, fragmented and subtly surreal in appearance. questioning both their surroundings and the conventions of portraiture, these works share the hyperrealist aesthetics of his documentary work, while employing skewed perspectives to accentuate the image and its character.