the paintings for stefan kürten’s show arrived today. from our press release about the show:
Stefan Kürten’s subject matter comes from his own photographs of the places he grew up or has traveled to: the familiar, prosaic settings of public gardens & sculptures, shopping malls, and suburban architecture. His use of gold, silver, and copper under-painting creates a warm glow that enhances the nostalgic mood of the work, as though the scene were tarnished with age. It also lends a majestic or religious sensibility to otherwise mundane scenes. The compositions remove any sense of time or place, engendering a feeling of familiarity, of recognition, through the unavoidable association with one’s own memories.
Memory and its loss are pervasive themes. In Kürten’s paintings, sculptures and memorials seem to fade into the surrounding vegetation. “I believe I’m beginning to disappear,” says Fiona in the movie Away From Her, in reference to her growing awareness of the onset of Alzheimer’s. The timelessness of the settings – their lack of specificity – indicates a blurring of past and present. Who are we without memory? As memory fades, so does identity.
Some paintings intermingle wallpaper patterns of interior spaces with the exterior world. This merging of inside/outside, nature/artifice parallels the unreliability and decay of memory – the disappearance of self, the confusion between real/present and memory/past – where ultimately such distinctions no longer matter – or even exist.
i first showed stefan in my gallery on federal street (above capp street project) in 1998. this is his 6th show with me. one of the best things about being a gallerist who works with contemporary art is representing artists. ok, so there’s a kind of “dad” aspect that can get tiring at times. but it’s really rewarding being intimately involved in the development of a really talented artist’s work. you come to understand the creative process in a way that no one else does. i love it when an artist makes something that at first completely surprises me, but then immediately makes sense. the feeling that “wow, i would have never thought of that, but now that you’ve done it, it is clearly the next place you had to go…”