Critics’ Picks

Thomas Baldischwyler, Die Spiegel (Physik), 2009, collage, glass, paint, 22 x 16".  

Thomas Baldischwyler, Die Spiegel (Physik), 2009, collage, glass, paint, 22 x 16".  


Thomas Baldischwyler

Conradi | Hamburg
Admiralitätstraße 71
November 6–December 19, 2009

Visions of social upheaval and cultural touchstones are painted with a rosy, muted palette in Thomas Baldischwyler’s solo exhibition. Over a series of collaged images culled mainly from vintage mass-market news publications, Baldischwyler elegantly paints Rorschach-blot-like abstractions with thick acrylic, resin, and glitter glazes and employs silk-screen patterns against heavy, occasionally blistered glass panels. The few instances of strong color in the compositions are softened by the thick glass, and the dominant colors on view include sweet, minty green, light yellow, lavender, and rose. The images themselves range from a photograph of a German tank in Kosovo (ironically or unself-consciously named Sancho by the soldiers inside) to a dreamy publicity snap of Olivia Newton-John perched in a tree, next to a small, rarely seen portrait of Joseph Beuys intently staring out a window, and a black-and-white concert shot of Mudhoney performing.

Similar colors flash in the front room of the gallery, where a program of random light patterns plays underneath glass floorboards that the gallery staff discovered after removing the former tenants’ carpet. The lights weakly replicate a disco floor, which Baldischwyler offers as a symbol of the first freedoms enjoyed by East Germans after the fall of the wall. In contrast to the potent, energetic primary colors usually used in disco floors, the shades that flash from Baldischwyler’s work are pale, and their melancholy glow is only faintly comforting, rather than electrifying and erotic, as their pretty patterns summon up feelings of nostalgia for bygone days that were defined by an intense hope for the future.