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Christoph Kern The Diversity of the Cube



YiaYiannos Titanium Gallery, Athens

Christoph Kern Diversity of the Painted Cube


Commited to spatial illusion Nikola Irmer


Christoph Kern uses old master knowledge of the material of painting with almost scientific obsessiveness to ‘breed cubes’. In his investigations he follows various tracks: cubes imploding in space, gyrating in science – fiction – like structures that evoke connotations like Star Wars or Kubrick’s 2001. Or monolithic cubes that seem to all but eliminate pictorial space in their attempt to push towards and flow over the edges. And, most recently, a focus on futuristic landscapes that appear to have been generated by the cubes themselves, yet in which the cubes tend more towards dissolution. Kern’s paintings are an accumulated history of their own making. They are built up of many layers, beginning with the initial scenario under investigation, setting the scene. With each progressive layer, the cubes’ evolutions, their growth, colour, position and movement in space as well as their relationship towards each other is traced, the positions at which they arrive are tested and pushed towards a point at which the image can rest. This stage is documented before the painting process continues. Pentimenti and animated films show the different stages of one painting’s transformation and are a way for the viewer to share in its evolution. In ‘Pica’ (p.12) cubes crowd their way into the painting and cluster around a bird’s – eye view of a plane in the distance that has asserted itself against an all but obliterated progenitor of the remaining hovering cubes. Yet traces of this ‘ancestor’ remain, making for another ambiguous play with the illusionistic potential of the painting: The erased cube’s top shows the sky’s reflection that seems to come from and announce an entirely different climate-zone. The crisp blue in this ambiguous field is so unlike the polluted atmosphere glimpsed in the background to the far right that one begins to understand 5

that Kern not only confounds our expectations of coherence of space but also those of time. The seductiveness of that bit of sky oscillates between lending itself to be perceived as reflection or as ‘actual’ sky, a further opening-out, another window onto a different world. As though it were tempting us – like the Russian dolls principle – to yet another place. As in a picture puzzle this play with positive and negative space makes for an ambiguity that is inherently connected to Kern’s attempt to negotiate between the opposing forces of Baroque space and the Modernist representative of the rational-the cube. This is also the dialectical game played by the ‘windows’ (e.g. in ‘Binh’ and ’WYB’, p.7 and 14), the reflective and transparent surfaces (‘BurCr’, ‘Beog’, p.14 and 15), mirrorings and interpenetrations of cubes and space. They draw our attention to painting’s main conflict: the tension between its essence (in the Greenbergian sense) of being a two-dimensional flat object and its potential into three dimensions. In his work, Christoph Kern confidently asserts the idea of the painting as a window to the world, the notion modernism worked hard to dispense with. When the cubes infiltrate the baroque stage–like landscapes, as representatives of the abstract and rational, the controversy over space is sustained and mediated by Kern during the painting process, thereby pitting the modernist tenet against a knowledge of the long history of painting that has gone before. For him the main challenge is not to ‘people space with cubes, but to push the painting towards a point when the cubes will have created their own environment’ and these two divergent ideas that were deemed to be incompatible will have undergone a transformation that has made for a world that as a painting is a believable, convincing entity.

CataM, 2007, 125 x 150 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin



bAlk, BaiK, 2007, each 100 x 100 cm, Pigment/egg tempera on muslin

fakAI, 2007, 100 x 120 cm, Pigment/acrylic, egg tempera on muslin



FaLuN, 2007, 100 x 150 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin

roSE, 2006, 100 x 125 cm, Pigment/acrylic, oil on muslin



Wobble, 2005, 100 x 100 cm, Pigment/acrylic, egg tempera on muslin

Borger TX, 2004-06, 120 x 160 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin



MouR , 2006, each 100 x 100 cm, Pigment/Binder on muslin

BonG, 2008, 50 x 50 cm, Pigment/egg tempera on muslin



, 2008, 100 x 100 cm, Pigment/egg tempera on muslin



FarQ, 2007, 100 x 100 cm, Pigment/acrylic, egg tempera on muslin



FatU, 2007, 100 x 120 cm, Pigment/egg tempera, oil on muslin

Construction drawing, each 12 x 12 cm, pencil on paper



GranDJu, 2004-07, 120 x 120 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin

Obsession, Neue Galerie Landshut, Germany, 2008



2006, each 30 x 30 cm, Pigment/egg tempera on wood

RoboS, 2005, 130 x 130 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin



SphinC, 2005, 105 x 105 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin

SacrPL, 2004-06, 120 x 120 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin



ChiliC , 2004-06, 120 x 120 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin



sob(a)t, 2003-2006, 140 x 180 cm, Pigment/acrylic on muslin

Biography 1960 Born in Munich 1979-1981 Studies in Philosophy and History, LMU, Munich 1981-1988 Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. BFA, MFA 1994-1996 Instructor for Design at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Potsdam 1997 Postgraduate scholarship, State of Bavaria, Department of Science and Culture, Munich: -Lecturer/visiting artist at SMFA, Boston, MA -Visiting artist and presentation at the M.I.T. Media Lab and CAVS directed by Prof. Steve Benton -Visiting artist and presentation at Hunter College, NYC -Presentation of „The Imagery Kit“ at the 7th Annnual International Conference of The Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and Life Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1999-2008 Visiting professor/instructor at the University GH Paderborn, (Focus: Interface analogue/ digital media) since 1989 in Berlin Selected solo exhibitions 2008 The Diversity of the Painted Cube, Titanium Yiayiannos Gallery, Athens; 2008 Cubic Worlds,Filipp Rosbach, Leipzig NEXT Art Fair, Chicago Flachland, Galerie Heufelder, Munich 2007/2002 Ulysses Gallery, Vienna; John Sailer and

Gabriele Wimmer 2004 The Evolution of the Painted Cube, KERN Prod. (DVD) 2003 U.I.G. Galerie, Berlin 2001 Würfelspiel, Galerie Stühler, Berlin 2000 Artenvielfalt, GBW, Munich (catalogue) 1998 The Uncertainty of the Cube, focus mediport, Berlin 1997 Storage, The Funeral Home, Boston, MA 1996 Bildsystem Bildbausatz, Neue Galerie Dachau (CD + catalogue) 1996 HART&weich, Städtische Galerie Neuburg (with W. Ellenrieder) (catalogue) 1989 Mit mir verglichen bin ich normal Kunstverein DAH (catalogue) 1990 Stiegen, Galerie am Maxwehr, Landshut, (catalogue) Selected group exhibitions 2008 Obsession, Neue Galerie, Landshut 2008/2005 The DVD-Project, München, Breda, Vlissingen, Madrid, 2005 In Deep, Transcending genre barriers – project 1999 Bildwuchs, Kunstverein Ulm 1997 The Staff Shaft Show, SMFA, Boston, MA 1995 Toys, Edition, Galerie Hohenthal und Bergen Köln, Tine Nehler Art Consulting



Titanium Yiayiannos Gallery Aristides and Dafni Yiayiannos Vassileos Konstantinou street 44 116 35 Athens - GREECE Phone: +30 210 72 97 644 Fax: +30 210 72 51 063


The Diversity of the Cube  

Christoph Kern at yiayiannos Titanium Gallery, Athens, 2009