BERLIN — German multi-disciplinary artist Thomas Schütte‘s latest exhibition at carlier | gebauer gallery (April 4 – June 07, 2017) featured a selection of his gigantic figurative heads, abstract Gartenzwerge and architectural studies. Unrestricted by medium, Schutte’s work employs a variety including ceramic, glass, steel, bronze and even wood.
There is one concept that is invariably applied to Schütte’s work regardless of subject matter or material: his sharp observation and interpretation of the human condition.
Featured Image: Thomas Schütte, Gartenzwerge, 2015, 7 ceramics. Varying dimensions. Offered by carlier | gebauer, Berlin
Grabbing our attention in this exhibition are his eery, looming two-faced ceramic figures. The gallery writes, Schütte directs his attention towards the otherness of face and body, whether as authoritative grotesques or modernist abstractions, his works renders figures that are fragmented, silent and singular, even when presented in groups.
There is always a touch of tenderness in the grotesque, strength in the vulnerable, and humor in the monstrous. What is startling, and at the same time reassuring, is that the work doesn’t mirror life in the black and white terms of contemporary pop culture imagery. Rather, Schütte’s work strikes a harmonious balance between the nuances of our precarious reality and the figures that he has shaped as a reflection of our existence within it.
BerlinArtLink was able to attend the exhibition. They write the exhibition builds on the theme of the human condition and experience with themes of territory, migration and nationalism. This occurs through the arrangement and scale of his work.
Through showing the individual artworks together, Schütte presents us with a series of juxtapositions; the injection of humour within sociopolitical issues; pairing the grotesque with kitsch; failed artistic processes alongside mastery of craft.
Furthermore, Schütte’s beautifully sculpted ceramic (feature image) and bright, glass Gartenzwerge continue to explore and build upon this theme. Translating as ‘garden-gnomes’—cheap mass-produced objects with a distinctly German history—they’re minuscule in comparison to Schütte’s domineering figurative ceramic and bronze heads. There’s something relatable, like rooting for the underdog, one observes in the tiny gnomes.
They become emblematic of contemporary discourse surrounding integrating immigrants in Germany.
About the artist: Thomas Schütte (b. 1954, Oldenberg) lives and works in Düsseldorf. He will be part of the 5th edition of Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017. His work has been the subject of extensive solo exhibitions internationally, including Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Serpentine Gallery, London; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and DIA Center for the Arts, New York. He has participated in bb4 – 4th berlin biennial for contemporary art; 51st Venice Biennale; documenta X, Kassel; documenta IX, Kassel; and documenta VIII, Kassel, as well as group exhibitions at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg; Museum der Moderne Salzburg; Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin; LACMA, Los Angeles; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; MCA, Chicago; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among many others.
Read more Cfile write-ups on Schütte’s work.
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