"I used to be darker
But then I got lighter
And then I got dark again"
May 15, 2010 – June 12, 2010
Friedrich Kunath was born in 1974 in Chemnitz, Germany. He studied at Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig with Walter Dahn, an artist well known in the German art world for his wide ranging artistic practice.
Since his first solo exhibit in 1994, Kunath has worked with several of the media we associate with contemporary art, including installations, drawings, paintings, video, and photography, but what has always remained consistent is the inner psychological world hidden deep behind his works’ cheery, even humorous appearance.
As he subjectively considers mankind’s root feelings of longing, despair, isolation, nostalgia, and the yearn to connect, this “self-reflection” often makes an appearance in the ironic text and titles of each piece. Throughout his art, we find the deep spirituality seen in the early German Romanticism of the late 18th century and a desire to return to nature. Together, these elements blend with, appropriate, harmonize with, abstract, and reconstruct the “pop culture” of the artist’s adopted home in America, coming together to form fully realized works.
Described as a cross between the post modernism of Sigmar Polke and the venomous pop of Richard Prince, this exhibition brings Friedrich Kunath’s work to Japan for the first time. Hopeful and melancholic, humorous and absurd, the ambivalent, questioning nature of these pieces is sure to resonate with today’s Japanese, torn as they are between freedom and its absence.
Takashi Murakami himself was said to be deeply moved by Kunath’s paradoxical world and his ability to combine seemingly contradictory forces – happiness and sorrow, darkness and light, laughter and tears – into a single piece. Murakami described his first encounter with Kunath’s art as follows: “ I first saw Friedrich’s art work a little over a year ago and I was blown away not only by how unique it was, but also by the powerful messages he was able to convey. I immediately wanted to know whose work it was and more about him.” Since then, the two artists have built a warm relationship, strengthening Murakami’s desire to share Kunath’s work with the young people of Japan and culminating eventually in this solo exhibition.