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A transversal collection
Alessandra Olivari



This is the second BQ exhibition since their move from Cologne to Berlin, and like the first is located in a temporary space, active only for the duration of the show, in this case a shabby groundfloor apartment in a non-residential area, with fake parquet floors, cheap halogen lighting and ugly brown shag carpet laid in two of the rooms. The policy suggests a site-specific agenda and although Friedrich Kunath is primarily a painter, he has made of this flat a suitably haunted backdrop for his bittersweet images. Kunath is German but lives in Los Angeles, and these two cultures are the significant poles in his work: Sigmar Polke’s painterly postmodernism meets the poisoned pop of Richard Prince. It is a tourist’s view of America.


MAURIZIO CATTELAN, Love Saves Life, 1995. Collezione Leggeri, Bergamo. Photo: Roberto Marossi.


The raw fabrics of Kunath’s paintings are stained and sprayed with garish colour and then overdrawn or silkscreened with cartoon imagery, a familiar graphic effect which he manipulates skillfully. Kunath is a collector of the abject, the faded, the obsolete, whether it is the illustrative clichés of his painting, or the arrangements of 70s knick-knacks, horror figurines and cheesy LPs in his still life photographs. These relics are intended to generate pathos or unease, but they are finally too fashionably retro: they look like hipster accessories. Similarly, the emotive phrases Kunath inscribes on his objects – ‘I remember your face’, ‘My love will not let you down’ – register as more irony laid upon irony, rhetoric issuing from nobody and addressed to nobody.

In the back room a single bed with a soiled mattress is angled to face a TV screen

showing a video of a man in a baggy snowman suit and bowler hat, carrying a suitcase and clambering among desert canyons. A piano tinkles away mournfully in the background. Finally he casts away the suitcase in exasperation. The conjunction

of image and music in the dark room has a genuine wistfulness, but it is difficult to

empathise with the predicament of the snowman Sisyphus when he is just another

‘floating signifier’


Flash Art 269  NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2009

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