MICHAEL KUTSCHBACH: crash test at seth’s arc



11 Apr - 6 May 2007


Exhibition text by Dorothea Jendricke, Berlin 2007
(translated by Erik Smith)

Patterns operate on a very deep level within our biological organisation. Rhythms and patterns lie at the heart of all life processes. Tangible or intangible patterns are the fundamental structures that bind everything together. Principally we are patterns. Indeed engineer Charles Babbages accurately designed his Analytical Machine, the precursor to the modern computer, on a principle that had been developed by the French silk weaver Jacquard who had employed punch cards to direct the manufacturing of complicated patterns in brocade fabrics. From this as much pragmatic as metaphorical integration of decorative patterns and abstract algebra, come Michael Kutschbach’s latest works. As matrices they refer to how the weaving of then has retreated behind the camouflage of technological progress. Michael Kutschbach’s works possess a confident, idiosyncratic look that suggest that the importance of the aesthetic cannot be dismissed. Biomorphic forms that conflate the traditions of abstract sculpture, echoes of design and comics, have and continue to dominate. The works present a remarkable, curious kind of playfulness. The objects cause viewers to grin; they depict a miniature world from another galaxy. New is the emergence of ornamental graphics, although the repetitive wall treatments from previous study groups of amorphous beings signal a tendency. For years Michael Kutschbach has explored an extensive array of diverse techniques, mediums and artistic approaches: from his beginning as an abstract painter to the ever-developing, pop-esque, self-sticking vinyl plots that cover walls, furniture and windows or, in a similar form but different materiality, appear on wallpaper or are applied to textiles, to the blobs that are formed from plaster. Over a longer period these appear in various sizes and groupings – monochrome, coloured or chromed, and their formal language is repeated contemporaneously in his digital animations. A series of various sized, black felt loops is the latest work. At first view these objects, in their dark black elegance, have something dominant and exceedingly masculine about them. Upon closer inspection, an equally black, ornamental velvet appliqué visibly emerges on the endless, self-looping surfaces. These works link to and yet contrast with a new group of mounted computer graphics while pursuing and broadening the rhetoric of the proceeding series through the reduction of color. The interplay between sharpness and blurriness opens up scenes of tinier pictograms and eccentric characters. That another layer of vinyl has been applied to the complex graphic makes the work much more communicative. By the end of the 90s Kutschbach began experimenting with biomorphic forms through painting and elementary sculptural structures. Influences from architectural language, product design and developments in graphic design are visible and deliberate. Above all, the advantage of deciding on a readable source of inspiration is that this reference averts primary art-based associations and methods of argumentation. In this way Kutschbach’s purposefully articulated ornamentation, which refutes the romantic claim of an artwork’s originality in its repetitive structure and anchoring in the everyday, reveals the historical division between art and design as questionable, if not altogether negligent misinterpretation. Instead the material opens up a possibility to reflect upon the entire popular realm of design from industrial product design, to decoration to advertising. This holds especially true for the vinyl stickers that thematically link the past several years and finally end up covering surfaces as serial wallpapers; separated they can also function as graffiti tags. Kutschbach consciously mixes art and design. He plays with suggestive causal interrelationships that are potentially simply a matter of analogies and confronts the consciously critical questions regarding the difference between art and a real object with ideas for the design or aesthetic optimization of our living environment. With Marge, Gretel, Otto, Celia, Uschi or Irvin we dive into an associative world of animated beings, whose communicative desires, through titles such as ‘uschi and irvin make merry masquerades (sheeping sleep)’, ‘where celia sticks it to stanley’ or ‘elf farm raffle’, are triggered and the starting point of a possible story or dialogue is presented.