Tobias Rehberger

Gio Marconi Gallery

As is often the case with exhibitions by Tobias Rehberger, here again the viewer was confronted with ambiguous works that hover between utilitarian object, architectural project, and autonomous work of art. The entrance to the first room contained an affectionate homage to Martin Kippenberger: drawn in spray paint on the wall, the by-now-unmistakable silhouette of Kippenberger’s sculptural self-portrait Martin, Go in the Corner, Shame on You, 1989, with its title also spray-painted on the wall. On the opposite side of the same surface was a completely different sort of intervention, the prototype of a corner wardrobe created for an important Italian manufacturer. The object, M.G.H.I.T.C., S.O.Y. (Prototype for Moroso) (all works 2005), fulfills all the requirements to be a utilitarian piece of furniture, but its surface is phosphorescent and radiates light in a dark space.

Another piece of furniture that transcends its function could be found in Reus (first installed in 2002), a work comprising forty-seven lamps hung from the ceiling at various heights. Each lamp was made of an ordinary lightbulb surrounded by simple colored-Plexiglas sheets applied to metal circles. (The installation obviously brought to mind Seven Ends of the World, the perhaps more monumental work Rehberger created for the 2003 Venice Biennale). With the help of a sensor, all the lamps turned on every time a visitor entered the room, increasing in intensity up to a maximum point within seven seconds, then gradually fading out over the same span of time.

In another room, Rehberger installed four doors, each titled Studio Room, assembled from cutout colored modules, giving a look recalling ’70s graphics. The size of the doors is identical to those the artist has in his studio. This room led to a final space, in which eighteen large-scale digital drawings were displayed. The title of each work reflects the number of actions employed to create it—for instance, 104 Applications and 335 Applications—while the subjects vary from the ordinary and ironic (a frog, a duck, a cigarette) to hand grenades and other weapons. If the look of Rehberger’s works brings to mind past eras, his drawings clearly engage with the telecommunications age: His work can be seen as a summation of different expressive styles, all of which can be recreated with the help of today’s available technologies.

Similar reflections came to mind observing the last intervention in this show, two large sculptures in the first room of the gallery. Here Rehberger showed his remaking of two residential structures originally designed, but never built, by modernist architect Rudolph Schindler. Presented here in painted wood and Plexiglas, the maquettes are large enough to hold a person, but they remain deliberately in the design phase. Whether ordinary dwelling or shelter, whether invested with utopian connotations or not, the architectural projects are proposed as prototypes to be reutilized in new contexts. The smaller of the two, meant to be a shelter for African emigrants fleeing toward Spain, was painted in colored enamels; the larger building, similar to a gigantic condominium, was covered with clippings from illustrated magazines, as in an act of reappropriation.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.