In his sixth solo exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery, Düsseldorf-based painter Stefan Kürten fills the entire gallery with new paintings on linen or paper depicting the environments we create in our tenacious attempt to make our lives perfect.
Chic mid-century homes, picturesque bungalows, meticulously manicured landscapes and resort architecture evidence the dazzling promise of economic prosperity in the post-World War II West. These are bright, clean, thoughtfully-designed places. Safe places. Happy places. The imagery is fabricated from Kürten’s own snapshots of California and Northern Europe or from ubiquitous shelter porn. The scenes seem to glow with a soft, golden, interior light – an effect achieved through the use of metallic gold pigment in the foundational layers of the paintings – that adds to their sense of harmony and richness.
Kürten’s is a perfect world. Well, almost. Beautiful as these images are, they’re unsettling – often for no reason you can quite name. Idyllic scenes are rendered uncanny by indeterminate sources of light that cast improbable shadows. Strangely-colored skies threaten an oncoming thunderstorm or recall a light-damaged image from the early days of color photography. Trash collects in the bottom of an empty swimming pool. Walls are defaced with graffiti. Decay, it seems, lies just beneath the surface.
Stefan Kurten studied with Michael Buthe at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and later at the Art Institute of San Francisco. Recent solo museum exhibitions include Künstlerverein Malkasten, Düsseldorf; Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany; Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; and Museum im Kulturspeicher, Würzburg, Germany. Several of his paintings were included in “Gesamtkunstwerk, New Art From Germany” at the Saatchi Gallery, London in the spring of 2012. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Saatchi Gallery, London; and many others. The artist lives and works in Düsseldorf.