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Nach dem Abitur studierte Karl Oppermann an der Hochschule der Künste Berlin bei L.G. Schrieber und Ernst Schumacher. 1970-85 unterhielt er ein Atelier auf der Insel Elba/Italien. 1971-96 war er Professor für freie Malerei an der HdK, jetzt UdK, Berlin.
2009 wurde die Karl Oppermann Stiftung an der Hochschule Harz errichtet.
Karl Oppermann was born into a long-established family of craftspeople on 30th October 1930 in Wernigerode (Harz Mountains). Already as a 15-year-old at the end of World War II, he decided to become a painter and began writing at the same time. His artistic oeuvre comprises oil paintings, drawings, collages and sculptures. He has published 10 books with his own stories and illustrations.
After secondary school, Oppermann left Wernigerode (which was in East German GDR at that time) and went to study at what was then the West Berlin HfBK Academy of Fine Arts under Ludwig Gabriel Schrieber (sculpting) and Curt Lahs (painting), before subsequently changing as a master student to free painting under Ernst Schumacher.
During a trip to Paris, he got to know Günter Grass, with whom he remained befriended from their student days together in the HfBK until Grass Grass' death in 2015.
Oppermann became known during the 1960s when his first exhibitions were held in Berlin:
In 1959 in Galerie Rosen, in 1963 in Galerie Gerda Bassenge and in 1965 in the Haus am Lützowplatz venue. In 1962, he published Altea, his first volume of poems with etchings.
From 1971 to 1996, Oppermann taught free painting for 25 years in what was then the HdK Academy of the Arts (and is the UdK University of the Arts today) in Berlin. The decades after that were followed by long work-related stays abroad. From 1970 to 1985, in addition to his workshop in Berlin, Oppermann maintained a studio on Elba, while from 1989 he also had one in Barcelona. Today he mainly lives again where he came from in the Harz Mountains.
Luis Freres coined the term "Prusiano-Latino" for Karl Oppermann during a trip he took to Latin America for exhibitions in Bogotá and Caracas. On the one hand, this refers to the deep political confrontation that he has had with the Prussian and German past and, on the other hand, to the emotional attachment he has with Spain and Latin America.
As a painter on a "human mission", Karl Oppermann is currently contextualising crises and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world in a series of oil paintings entitled Düstere Gesellschaft. He is connecting them visually with memories of barbarities in the 20th century. These works reflect his doubts about whether we are progressing with the "human dream of peace and advancement in freedom." (Oppermann).
Karl Oppermann's works have been shown over the last five decades in countless solo and group exhibitions. His solo shows have been held in Berlin, Bogota, Barcelona, Bonn, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Frankfurt am Main, Genoa, Halle, Hamburg, Krakow, Houston, Lima, Lisbon, London, New York, Paris, Potsdam, Prague, Quedlinburg and Sao Paulo, among others.
Galerie Petra Lange, Berlin, 28. Juni - 16. August 2017
NordArt 2017 (group exh.), Rendsburg / Büdelsdorf, 10. Juni - 08. Oktober 2017
Der Maler Karl Oppermann, Kunstquartier Havelberg,, 25. März - 10. Juni 2017
Stiftung Karl Oppermann an der Hochschule Harz, Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, Landesmuseum Bonn, Kupferstichkabinett Dresden, Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, Berlinische Galerie, Stiftung Berlin Museum and in other institutes and banks.
2003 Kunstpreis der Stadt Wernigerode
2006 Sankt Andreas Kunstpreis
2015 Verleihung der Ehrennadel des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt