Kenno Apatrida’s “EXHUMATION” fills the Wilde Galerie’s elegant white storefront space with dolls, puppets, phonographs, antique ceramic tiles, tear-outs from political magazines and other propaganda from the Third Reich, old stamps, vintage family photographs, warped canvases clotted with paint, clusters of framed paintings, devotional icons and burning candles dripping red and cream-colored wax. Yet the effect is restrained compared to the overflowing installations the Peruvian artist usually assembles in temporary exhibition spaces he occupies in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona.
For “Highway Child,” an exhibition curated by Emilie Trice in a compellingly dilapidated 900 square meter former brewery, Kenno crammed a shamanistic stew of Berlin's detritus, remnants of his time as an illegal squatter, into the dank industrial upstairs exhibition area. His mesmerizing "HeimatloseVolkskunst (Homeless Folk Art)" installation extended into shrine-like structures around the brewery vats in the basement, where he now maintains a combination studio and sprawling installation.
Yet the impact of individual pieces retains its force in the bright, light, clean Wild Galerie space. In fact, new venue enables Apatrida’s art to tease out for inspection the delicate details and unique attributes of the gallery’s beautiful building. His work’s frenetic energy enlivens the gallery environment and the space between works spotlights the fascinating complexity within each piece.
Apatrida’s art is dense yet somehow remains uncluttered. His keen intellect and intellectual curiosity are always in evidence regardless of medium. His magpie mentality includes overt appropriations of art historical references ranging from Santerian iconography to Goya. But Bosch is clearly a vital touchstone for the former student in philosophy, literature, and theology at the University of Santiago in Chile and the University of Havana. Regardless of one’s familiarity or associations with his references, his works are clearly spiritual and provoke wonder. In the end, the sum is not greater than the strength of the parts – but both are admirably equal, and equally tantalizing.
--Ana Finel Honigman
(*Images, from top to bottom: KENNO Apatrida, Waxed Ancestor, 2008, Mixed media, 72 x 55 cm. Kenno Apatrida, Installation view, Exhumation, 2009, Mixed media, Dimensions variable. Kenno Apatrida, Installation view, Exhumation, 2009, Mixed media, Dimensions variable.)