We have enthusiastically anticipated Friedrich Kunath's first solo exhibition in New York for nearly two years. The intimacy of Gallery 2 underscores a core essence of sincerity and although the included works vary in medium – several suites of drawings, a video, photographs, a sculpture - a singular root prevails.
A truly visceral experience is not very common – digested, distilled or pre-explained has become far more typical. Similarly, it is unusual to experience what could arise from the truly emotional. By contrast, Kunath's work is imbued with real emotion. In making each piece Kunath goes to the place, either physically or metaphorically, that is personal and tied to his original idea. Defined, emotion is the language of a mental state of being, normally based in or tied to the internal (physical) and external (social) sensory. Like these dual ingredients, the resulting work is part fantastical and part the original thought or idea as filtered through the real experience of its making. When the goal is accessing the inaccessible the possibility of failure is present, but for Kunath tales of quandary, desire, loose ends - tempered by a thoughtful humor - all trump the need for finite conclusions. In fact, he proceeds not in spite of failure but because he is willing to go to the edge. Equally, Kunath is interested in things left behind – servicing a revelation or truth which occurs in the midst of a transition or powering a new understanding advantaged by distance.
His sincerity, cut with a measure of cleverness, persuades like a smell. Similar to the olfactory sense, the influences that riddle Kunath are deeper because the erosiveness comes unexpectedly, is then massive, yet threatens to flee. Still, a buoyancy needles at warnings of melancholy. This constant playing with the untamable generates true physicality in Kunath's practice and work.
Increasingly, the program of the gallery is focusing on work that incorporates intellectual and formal history yet still is physical, visceral. The process of culling works from the last hundred years for the main room exhibition "Looking at Words: The Formal Presence of Text in Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper" was a valuable investigation of past practices in this vein and lends a renewed appreciation and hope for a continuation of these practices in younger work. Although the combination of exhibitions is never programmed intentionally, it is opportune that these two shows are simultaneous since Kunath engages in the dialogue which is introduced by the main gallery exhibition.
This is Friedrich Kunath's first solo exhibition in New York. He lives and works in Cologne, Germany.