After five years and ten months, Portikus presents its 50th exhibition - a result that is all the more remarkable as the basic programme, for which, starting this year, there is an exhibition-preview, is accompanied by a continuous production of catalogues. In addition, a large number of accompanying events have been offered: actions, supplementary exhibitions, lectures, and especially the series Music at Portikus organised by Rüdiger Carl, which was replaced last year by the series Film at Portikus organised by Urs Breitenstein.

The jubilee exhibition by John Wesley and Paul-Armand Gette represents in an exemplary manner the objectives of the institution itself, in that a high artistic demand concurs with the risk of experimentation.

The American painter John Wesley, born 1928 in Los Angeles and living in New York, is one of the few artists who have developed over decades a continuous oeuvre without wavering in view of contemporary fashions. An oeuvre that avoids easy accessibility. In the 60s, his works were labelled Pop Art, but it soon became clear that the correspondences to his painter colleagues Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, for example, could only claim limited validity. Wesley's paintings, although dedicated to cartoons and American everyday life, nonetheless gain exceptional spiritual profundity from these sources: they wrest from the ordinary all the big themes that have played and still play a role in the occidental tradition of figurative painting, themes telling of passion, love, hate, failure, human malice, self-importance, greed, and of dreams. In ornamentally handling the pictorial surface, Wesley creates the ambiguity and humour in the meaning of the pictures which is typical of him.

A comprehensive catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition, developed in co-operation with the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where the exhibition is shown next . The exhibition of the gouaches is then shown at the DAAD-Gallery in Berlin.

Photos: Katrin Schilling