Friedrich Kunath

25.06.2016 - 11.09.2016
Opening: 24.06.2016

With Juckreiz (Itch) by Friedrich Kunath, the Philara Collection presents its first temporary exhibition at the new space on Birkenstrasse 47 in Düsseldorf-Flingern.

Melancholic subjects with neon-coloured insertions, pop culture’s tristesse and reflections on his own artist persona are recurring themes in Friedrich Kunath’s multi-faceted work. The title of the exhibition, Juckreiz (Itch), forms a mental bridge between two places. Typographically and phonetically the title refers to the 1974 album Zuckerzeit by the German Krautrock band Cluster. The album’s most famous song, Hollywood, is also Kunath’s current place of residence. Friedrich Kunath, born in Germany in 1974, thus creates a biographical transfer between his auditive memory of Germany and California, his adopted country.

Idealised landscapes form the scenery for Kunath’s iconography, they consist of perfume bottles, fried eggs and knick-knacks. Imagining oneself in different places with elements of the familiar becomes the introduction to a well-tended escapism. In doing so he is borrowing from Caspar David Friedrich and Claude Lorraine. But before we can fully succumb to these longings, he destroys the picturesque with his punch lines. There is a meeting at the Elysium – Can’t Have It All.

Thrown back on oneself, becoming aware of life’s tragedy, Kunath’s sense of humour emerges.

Somewhere between irony and melancholy Friedrich Kunath always revolves around the topoi of what it means to be an artist. The classical image of the artist, coined during Romanticism, of the lonely, volatile, and troubled genius is likewise being confirmed and satirised. I Need to Sleep transforms an essential desire into an advertisement. The neon letters above the dark forest are reminiscent of the nocturnal loneliness of big American cities as well as that of the German forest. 

The video You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Crazy follows an artist into the isolation of success of his midlife crisis. During sports, be it tennis or sailing, he himself and his past are his only teammate and his only sailor. In this context the boat, a recurring symbol with Friedrich Kunath as well as the title image of the exhibition, is reminiscent of Lebensstufen (around 1834) by Caspar David Friedrich, where it serves as a synonym for man’s life span on a sea of time.

This topic is emphasised further with the work Just Don’t Be Yourself. Cartoon characters, emoticons and the slogan Juckreiz span across the large-size screen in the form of a wallpaper ornament. A seemingly endless sequence, which refers to classical figures from our cultural history such as Sisyphus and Prometheus. All that remains is a constant itch for which there is no cure – the best possible world is always the one we do not inhabit.