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View of “Friedrich Kunath,” 2015. Foreground: B.C. (Fraktur), 2015. Background: You Know We Can’t Go Back, 2015. Photo: Roman Maerz.

Friedrich Kunath

BQ

View of “Friedrich Kunath,” 2015. Foreground: B.C. (Fraktur), 2015. Background: You Know We Can’t Go Back, 2015. Photo: Roman Maerz.

In Friedrich Kunath’s painting It’s Friedrich (all works cited, 2015), the handwritten title phrase emerges from an old-fashioned, corkscrew-cord telephone held out by an anthropomorphic cartoon tree. The latter—a black-lined overlay, like David Salle for tots—sits on a landscape that runs Romanticism through an Athena-poster filter: above, an empurpled sky full of clouds that themselves resemble craggy mountains; below, aquamarine river water hammering rocks, upon which the tree—smiling—stands. By this point, several suavely vulgarized landscapes into the German-born, Los Angeles–based Kunath’s exhibition “Sentimental Air,”it takes the viewer a moment to register that the Friedrich referred to might be the present-day artist himself, and not (or not only) Caspar David. Indeed, the work can appear emphatically driven by the problem of nostalgia, by theatrical

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