Since our last show, Friedrich Kunath has had celebrated solo
exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Kunstverein
Hannover, and the Aspen Art Museum. Tropical Depression, Kunath’s
third solo exhibition at the gallery, stages a watery world and shows
Kunath’s unique ability to wrest together normally contradictory
notions of romanticism and despair, and irony and sincerity, to fill the
gallery with a mood, almost the way a scent invisibly permeates a
room and alters one’s perception. His work shows us how images, no
matter how seemingly universal, can become personal, even
Besides describing the most benign form of oceanic storm, the title Tropical Depression refers to a kind of
internal weather system combining melancholy and a sense of hopefulness. Tropical Depression is a lush
depression one wallows in and holds in itself a kind of promise and optimism.
In the main gallery, a new series of notebook paintings surround three figurative sculptures. Well known for
his colorful canvases, Kunath’s new notebook paintings are primarily colorless and rendered in lush shades of
graphite. As if the color has been sucked out of the paintings and drizzled on the skin of the sculptures, the
figure in each of the three sculptures features skin colored in a watery swirl of pigment. Each of the sculptures
are a combination of realistic figuration and the surreal. Life scale and wearing the artist’s clothes, the
sculptures possess an uncanny presence. Each of the sculptures’ titles begin with the phrase “All my problems
are water based . . .” evoking ongoing themes in Kunath’s work of homesickness, melancholia, and addiction.
The line between nurturing and excess become blurred with images of a man engorging himself on a giant
strawberry or watering a tree connected to a noose.
Kunath describes this new series of works as existing between Hieronymus Bosch and Jimmy Buffett. Always
interested in the deep influence of popular culture, Kunath’s work locates sincerity in the banal. Balancing
wanderlust and a desire for home, his work is a guide to surviving in the vastness of the universe. Living and
working in Los Angeles for the past several years Kunath has become a literal stranger at home in a city built
on the perverse pairings of glitz and misery, fame and isolation, paralleling the contradictions of his own
native Germany. As Douglas Fogle wrote recently, “For Kunath, perhaps home is found in the space between
two bodies, real or imagined.” Kunath’s work is ultimately so desirable because it “feels” and it feels personal.
Using humor and what might seem like a simplicity of means as an easy seduction, like a favorite song, they
embed themselves deeply within your psyche. The surface becomes like the lyrics and the formal qualities like
the affective power of music.
In 2010 Friedrich Kunath had solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and Kaikai Kiki in
Tokyo. In 2009 he had a solo exhibition at Kunstverein Hannover and in 2009 he had a solo exhibition at the
Aspen Art Museum as well as being included in the prestigious 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh. Other
recent group exhibitions include the Seattle Art Museum; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Walker Art Center,
Minneapolis; Tate Modern, London; Museum Für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt Am Main; Maggazzino d’arte
moderna, Rome. Kunath was awarded the Peter Mertes Stipendium, Kunstverein Bonn, Germany in 2001 and
Arbeitsstipendium der Jürgen Ponto – Stiftlung, Frankfurt AM Main, Germany in 2005.
For more information and images, please contact Jessica Eckert, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Renee Reyes,