Piotr Nathan

Galerie Isabella Kacprzak

Piotr Nathan aims at reaching a truth behind the objectivist, universalist, fetishistic demands of the modern art object. Through Nathan’s objects, we experience how meaning is made, how material fetishism arises. But at the same time, we are ensnared, compelled to roam about, dumbfounded by the grandiloquent, brutal aspects of the objects themselves. Nathan makes himself vulnerable, fearing neither obviousness nor contradictions. The titles of his pieces and the arrangement of this exhibition (which offers works from the past seven years—almost a miniretrospective) confirm the impression that Nathan is intent on getting the static qualities of his objects to flow and shift in such a way that the power of the works’ own irony may be sabotaged.

In dissolving the usual relationships between objects, their materials, and their titles, Nathan manages to create new interrelations between the various objects. Thus we see the welded shirt collars of Schmutzige Kragen (Dirty collars, 1987) next to Blaue Augen (Blue eyes, 1989), a Plexiglas piece with the bluish imprint of a lace pattern. These, in turn, are next to Ein blondes Mädchen färbt ihr Haar nicht schwarz (A blond girl doesn’t dye her hair black, 1987), a wall piece consisting of a pleated braid of record fragments and iron wire. The most blatant example of Nathan’s use of deliberately overbred, ludicrous, indeed absurd mimicry is Besenreine Räume (Broom-clean rooms, 1988): two orange tablecloths hanging from a number of red threads state the simultaneous presence and absence of two “tables” and insert a minor philosophical problem into the exhibition (but so gently as to be barely visible). The support of an illusion in objective reality is achieved here with a certain lightness. With equal lightness, Nathan avoids developing a personal style: the artist’s self is in constant retreat. Nathan aspires to an art of non-selfrealization.

Jutta Koether

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.