Thomas Straub, BKV1, Kreisaura, 2010
Thomas Straub plays with the perceptual habits of viewers, opens a new perspective onto their traditional points of view, and sharpens their awareness of details which are inherent to things.
For the atrium of the Badischer Kunstverein, the artist has created his own staging which arranges various objects, sculptures and collages into a type of backdrop. He confronts the classical severity of the high middle space with a 'provisional wall' made of found cardboard boxes and partially following the course of the architecture - being placed in front of it like a second, recycled membrane, as it were. Straub is interested above all in the structures, patterns or grids which impart coherence to spaces and objects as well as to drawings, and which develop what is for him a highly individualized visual presence. Also in his collages with Christian icons, Straub is concerned with the matrix which is hidden behind these 'sacred images'. He challenges the principle of their supposed immateriality and inviolability by photocopying the icons out of books, making multiple copies of them, and then treating them himself.
In other works by the artist, it is the interplay between light and shadow which continue this play with reality and irreality, with image and copy. Four mobile tripods support neon tubes which branch tree-like into the surrounding space and intensify the backdrop-like atmosphere of the exhibition. They are simultaneously instrument for illumination, natural object and sculpture, and they undermine the border between artistic work and the technique of its representation. For the work Weiße Mitte, Straub carved the copy of a found branch as exactly as possible. Both original and copy stand as fragile sculptures in the exhibition space and cast their shadows on the opposite wall. As in the famous stencil images of the so-called Rorschach test, a psychological aspect unfolds in this mirroring: The shadow cast by the natural object becomes a graphic figure which offers a new space for associations and interpretations. At the same time, this work points to the inevitably unsuccessful endeavour to produce an exact copy of something, and instead emphasizes the specific quality inherent to the reproduction.
THOMAS STRAUB (*1976) lives and works in Karlsruhe.
Studies at the Kunstakademie Nürnberg and Kunstakademie Karlsruhe (Masterclass Harald Klingelhöller).
Solo exhibitions (selection): 2010, St. Matthäus Kultur-kirche, Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (September); 2009, tinderbox, Hamburg; 2008, Mayerei, Karlsruhe.
Group exhibitions (selection): 2009, HBC, Berlin / Atelierfrankfurt, Frankfurt; 2008, Goethe Institut Glasgow / Galerie Hans Meyer, Düsseldorf; 2007, Kunstverein Hildesheim / Kunsthalle Mannheim