Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Thomas Kalthoff

Posted in Reviews by matteoconsonni on February 28, 2009

img_70102MOT International, London, presents the first personal exhibition of the german artist Thomas Kalthoff, the first in the UK. The show highlights an artist that is still less known, because he always preferred to concentrate on his work, instead of  wasting time in the promotion of himself.

The new set of works presented is composed by some canvases and some sculptures, these ones made by wooden painted boxes.

The artists has always been interested in the tipycal shape of the box since the ‘90s, when he was involved in the active art scene of Cologne togethere with his friends Michael Krebber and Ulrich Strothjoahann. In this period he starts to paint some canvases with boxes, using some shades of grey. Thomas Kalthoff took his inspiration by the direct observation of the boxes that he used in the everyday’s life, like those used to pack the household appliances or the ones he used to bring the grocery shopping home. He ‘s always been interested in theyr specific presence, in the way they occupied the space.


The small paintings in the show are connected to the first series of painted boxes, but here the colors are strong and brilliant, and used to create a balance between armony and contrast, so that the subject appears in all its physical presence.

The deep interest in the physical presence of the box was the starting point of the path that the artist undertook: transform the painting into a tridimensional work. This process is clearly visible in the whole show, where some of the tridimensional boxes are hanged on the wall, while some of them conquer the entire space of the gallery on their hand-made wooden plinths.

The wooden boxes and the paintings have for the artist the same value, because they represent a natural evolution of his work: the painted box achieves its tridimensionality, it becomes a real presence, needing its own space: in the paintings the subject was in the middle of a monochromatic background, instead the boxes need a plinth for themselves, but a unique and dinstinct one. This is important for the work not only to achieve a better ufficial status, but to improve thair uniqueness.

Thomas Kalthoff’s work seems at first sight abstract and conceptual, a first impression that is reinforced by the observation of non-natural colours; his practice instead has a very strong link with reality, a simplified reality that deals with the pure presence of the subject, and this contributes to make his works less distant and more enjoyable.

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