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Stefanie Gutheil at the Mike Weiss Gallery in New York City
By Eva Ostrowska, September 2011
Stefanie Gutheil's "Dreckige Katze"
Mike Weiss Gallery
520 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011
September 8 - October 8, 2011
(212) 691-6899, www.mikeweissgallery.com
Stefanie Gutheil in her exhibition "Dreckige Katze" at Mike Weiss Gallery.
Stefanie Gutheil's exhibition, "Dreckige Katz," comprising installations, paintings and sculptures, felt true to her reputation for narrative vision and provocative phantasmagoria. She offers sixteen uncanny works in this show.
Her new work requires an exploratory approach, as if navigating in bizarre humorous nightmares, oscillating between psychedelic violence and very bad taste. Gutheil's paintings are characterized by small and huge weird figures, caricatures of people she knows in her everyday life, that she uses to create surreal atmospheres and often grotesque pictorial stories. All her creatures, most of the time cats, are regurgitating or vomiting unexpected objects. A cow disgorging a pearl necklace, a black cat ejecting from his teeth a green, red and white rainbow; a masturbating monkey and other animals are displayed on wall-sized canvases. The whole exhibition is a muddle of sexual scatology, political references, kitchy violence and the vague depravity, giving rise to an ambiguous sense of anxiety and unease.
Stefanie Gutheil --Lazerpussy, 2011,
Oil, acrylic, fabric, foil, and decoration on canvas 94 1/2 x 81 1/8 inches.
Painted in acrylic, oil and spray print, her canvases act like moving panorama screens, creating a much shallower space. At first they remind us of Hieronymus Bosch or Max Beckmann, but the influence of some of the contemporary illustrative Dutch artists such as Collin Van Der Sluijs or the German painters becomes more apparent, showing evidence of an established vocabulary being pushed in new directions. If the intention is to resuscitate Berlin expressionist painters it is, well, undigested.
Gutheil also offers installations which added mischievous ambiance. The sculptures displayed in the main gallery are made of metal, polymer clay and silicon, in a rococo golden style. Her "Pile of shit in round gold frame" has a fussed-over finish that looks careful, still, and seductive, which bring to mind some of Wim Delvoye's works. Although Gutheil does something risky with her objects, it is not simply a parody of kitsch. It is more an homage to all of them. Much of the best art of Gutheil's sculptures is cleverly and trashily psychedelic, as if the artist were trying to transcend both the innocence of punk life and the elegance and sophistication of the art world. This much is delightfully unsettling and daring. But nausea is a hard feeling to live with for an entire exhibition. This single note is sounded, pardon the expression, ad nauseam. A little bit of her message would have gone a long way.