Friedrich Kunath’s current exhibition at Blum&Poe centers on the theme of home and moving from one place to another. However, in this case, the move is filled with melancholy and longing. The exhibition creates a feeling of uneasiness and sadness, but the cheery style and imagery save it from being depressing.
Upon entering the first room, large, bright-colored canvases with various scenes silk-screened on them (a monkey, a couple embracing, quotes from a Bartlett’s) express a romantic feeling of moving to a new place. While sugar coated and delightful, an air of mockery is prevalent and emphasized by the titles (Before We Were Young, I Love Melancholy and Last Mango in Paris). In the middle of the room, two upside down pedestals are adorned with chachkies picked up from yard sales. Their function in a home is to personalize it, but in this instance their grouping and similar aesthetic reveals a uniformity that contradicts their personal meanings. This house is filled with a contrived idea of character. In the corner is a rooftop with a weathervane perpetually spinning. Peeking inside, expecting to see a kitten welcoming you home, there is a palm tree, longing for the warmth of a home and the ease of a vacation.
Kunath’s juxtaposition of nostalgia and reality and contemporary versus traditional imagery is conveyed in a small object set outside the gallery space: an architectural model of a modern house is settled upon a snail. Hauling its home, a place that while picturesque and dreamy is actually cold and empty.
The second room exhibits black and white photographs of landscapes overlaid with drawings from cartoons and anatomical illustrations. While being ironic and comedic, they are ultimately lonely and isolated from each other. The romance of a place is depicted, but these interceptions of characters seem to make fun of anything nostalgic. The characters want to integrate into the images, but they can only attempt to humanize a banal scene.
(Images from top to bottom:
Before we were young, 2008
Lacquer, acrylic and gouache on canvas
123 1/4 x 99 1/2 inches
Wood, mixed media
approx. 90 inches each, installed dimensions variable
Rambla Pacifico, 2008
C-print, diasec, aluminum frame
31.1 x 23.6 inches (78.9 x 60 cm)
All images courtesy Blum and Poe)