BY Holger Liebs in Reviews | 03 MAR 99
Featured in
Issue 45

Hans-Christian Dany, Gunter Reski

BY Holger Liebs in Reviews | 03 MAR 99

Gunter Reski works with data provided by an everyday world in which newspaper photographs of crashed cars have become insignificant marginalia. Like the Surrealists, he works in a time when events are only as significant as the media that conveys them, whilst avoiding their tendency to make subjects mysterious or noble.

Using a finely traced style of candy-coloured painting to decorate the shattered bodywork of a coach, Reski eliminates the image's tragic dimension. The crashed vehicle, a twisted, splintered heap of metal that looks like a broken toy, seems at once innocent and threatening, almost like a living creature frozen in the midst of metamorphosis.

Reski glued strips of paper together to fill the gallery space with small, painted sculptures. Above the tiled floor a screen, a little fireplace, a transistor radio on a radiator and a pair of jeans are displayed. The intimacy of this somewhat austere 'instant' living-room - the motif of the distorted bus hanging on the wall as a decoration - is enhanced by Reski's procedure of exposing the insides of each object. The inside of the ghetto-blaster is decorated with scraps of language, illustrating the childlike notion that sounds coming out of a loudspeaker had previously been hiding inside it.

The gummed joins in the paper works are also visible, but their apparent amateurism is supposedly part of a greater scheme. Garments stand upright, electrical appliances seem strangely limp: Reski's compelling narrative, pictorial universe is not inhabited by hard or soft structures, fixed or fluid aggregate conditions, but only droll ornaments in a potentially infinite space-continuum.

Constantly changing perspective is a recurrent theme of Reski's work. Not even his name is safe: as an art critic, for example, he calls himself 'Gunnar Reski', whilst as an artist who curates exhibitions, makes CD-Roms and runs a shop in Berlin, he prefers the more Teutonic-sounding 'Gunter'. Reski also publishes the artzine Starship with writer and artist Hans-Christian Dany, whose main project has been running the Cologne/Hamburg television station Unser TV (Our TV), a project which attempts to interest the public in artistic concepts more complex than those featured in cultural programmes broadcast by German public television stations.

UTV also runs advertisements and soap operas which Dany has illustrated with A4 ball-point pen drawings. The motifs repeat themselves; comic-like, abstract, with ornamental backgrounds. The artist scanned many of the drawings and then enlarged them on his computer, until the drawn structures appeared as crude grids. He is also showing two video works in Cologne: a children's Kung-Fu class shot through the grid of a window; passing feet filmed through the chassis of a pram. While the drawings seem obsessive, the static quality of the video motifs seems rather more meditative - in technical terms both essentially private and markedly unprofessional.

Although the ironic craziness of Dany's ball-point pen figures and the craftsmanlike perfection of Reski's furniture seem formally disparate, both artists camp on the riverbank of the everyday. Their work fuses a childlike quality with criticism, giving it the advantage that it never seems to feel at home anywhere - even though the artists easily establish a homely set-up wherever they happen to be.

Translated by Michael Robinson