Encompassing painting, sculpture, drawing, video and photography, Friedrich Kunath’s work focuses on universal themes of the human condition: love, loss, loneliness, optimism and dejection, all imparted with a tragicomic pathos.
Kunath draws inspiration from sources such as song titles, lyrics and books, along with art historical influences, including Conceptual Art, German Romanticism and Symbolism. His paintings are saturated with washes of color, which are then overlaid with diverse visual references, from line art satirical cartoons, doodles or chocolate-box imagery to passages of text with nuanced word-play. With titles such as ‘Leaving is Overrated’, ‘I May Not Always Love You’ and ‘Bureau of Sad Endings’, the work strikes a balance between irony and desolation.
Kunath creates all-encompassing, multi-media environments. Some of the works feature characters referencing the artist – sculptural figures modeled on his own body, or paintings with a melancholic ‘everyman’, full of longing for home. In ‘The Tear Will Love Us Apart’, a Modernist reclining sculpture lies on a day-bed watching a film that charts a journey simultaneously looking towards and future and back to the past; filmed from the front of a train moving forward through a bucolic landscape and overlaid with a ghostly image of a figure repeatedly hitting a tennis ball against a wall emblazoned with the slogan ‘The Past’. Absurdist in content, a sense of faux nostalgia permeates the scene.
Kunath relocated a number of years ago from his native Germany to Los Angeles, and the tropes of Californian counter-culture provide source material for his works. As Kunath himself has noted, his new surroundings have borne influence on the work: ‘I guess the colors got brighter and the topics got darker. Sunshine and Noir’.
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