Norbert Witzgall concentrates on one single genre: the portrait. However, by researching its possibilities and testing its conventions, Witzgall takes the painted portrait far beyond its traditional intentions. In each of his works a system of references is at play. Witzgall appropriates carefully selected photographic source materials, ranging from pictures of stars found in magazines to renditions of Old Masters or posed portraits of friends. He often uses collage to assemble these elements into one composition.
Witzgall’s paintings betray a complex, contradictory attitude: he idealizes his subject yet questions the medium, remaining skeptical about the autonomy and significance of painting in general. Witzgall develops an unusually fascinating language, at times reminiscent of the Biedermeier epoch, pop culture, Dada, and Surrealism. A certain degree of academicism and precision tends to be countered ironically by the use of out-dated painting techniques, and Witzgall often seeks to obstruct or disturb the images he creates in affixing various materials to the picture plane.
Each portrait is an equally important fragment of the artists’ personal mirror. Witzgall thinks of his works as interchangeable parts of an ever evolving, equivocal image system. This defines his exhibition practice: Witzgall arranges his works into one ensemble, .
“Quod Lizbeth”, the title of the installation, derives from the term ‘quodlibet’, as known from painting and musical history where it refers to a free, improvised part within a composition. The title elegantly mocks classic quodlibet as part of bourgeois classification by misreading it, while the name Lizbeth bears associations to a personal name - perhaps an unknown grandma, the English queen or Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor.