Thursday, 31 January 2019, 7 p.m.
Susanne Kleine, curator at Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
Tabletops hang on the walls, a bizarre jumping jack floats in the room and shiny metal letters comment on the events – the multi-faceted work of Keti Kapanadze (born 1962 in Tbilisi, Georgia, lives and works in Bonn), which began to emerge in patriarchal Georgia during the Soviet Union, ranges from conceptual drawings and sculptures to photography and video to large-format wall and room installations. In her oeuvre, the Georgian conceptual artist repeatedly deals with her own identity and her role as a woman and artist. She frequently uses everyday objects or phenomena and transforms them into new contexts through critical analysis.
New wall installations from deconstructed 1950s flower tables will be shown in the gallery’s project space. The artist transforms these everyday objects, which are increasingly associated with femininity, into two-dimensional installations on the wall. In Keti Kapanadze’s work we repeatedly encounter supposedly feminine attributes and allusions. They are particularly interested in the relationship between man and object and our ideas about design forms. What associations are connected with them? How do these objects affect us when they are detached from their original context and transferred into a new context? For this investigation Kapanadze chose the naïve kidney-shaped icons of the 1950s and creates autonomous, monumental symbols on the wall that grow into compositions resembling blueprints of chemical reactions in the human brain. In this way, the three-dimensionally layered form of the flower tables is transformed into a two-dimensional, rhizome-like network. In this new arrangement, the forms are freed from their hermetic existence and function. The installative compositions and newly created contexts produce humorous and emotional landscapes that describe a micro- and macrocosm of human existence.
The wall and room installations are accompanied by words and short sentences made of seductively shiny metal. Kapanadze uses words like ready-mades – like found objects whose intuitively emerging form is always in the foreground conceptually. Her metal works are cut out of nickel in a smaller format, mostly letters, words or short statements, sometimes even numbers. They appear playfully in the room or on the wall and humorously comment on the neighbouring works. The cold, clear material of nickel creates a strong contrast to the playful forms of wood. The artist is always interested in the diversity of information carriers and the question of what occupies our perception. We search for the principle of an efficient language, for a code, a sign, a symbol.
For her photo series “Harmonic Enterprise”, which has been running since 2016 and provides the title for her exhibition at the gallery, the artist asks friends and acquaintances – sometimes spontaneously – to be allowed to photograph her apartment or her studio. In these rooms alone, Kapanadze intervenes in the furnishings in just a few minutes, intuitively rearranging individual objects and finally pressing the camera’s shutter button. Compositions in strict black and white are created, which on closer inspection seem humorous. “Harmonic Enterprise #2” (2016) shows a tower of stacked chairs in the center of a barren interior. This is a woman’s apartment in a traditional old building in Tbilisi, Georgia. Kapanadze was amazed at the modesty and austerity of her living space. Perhaps the pyramidally stacked chairs in the centre of Kapanadze’s room testify to her desire to fill the void she found. The curtains in the background of the picture, which prevent us from looking out of the two windows, give the staging a theatrical moment. The viewer’s gaze concentrates solely on the reduced interior of the intimate private space. The second exhibited photograph “Harmonic Enterprise #14” (2016) was also taken in Georgia. Here Kapanadze also humorously placed found objects in the centre of the picture. The artist uses the medium of photography conceptually to document the sculptural moment.
Keti Kapanadze (born 1962 in Tbilisi, Georgia, lives and works in Bonn) first attended Art College in Tbilisi to study graphics and painting at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts from 1984 to 1990. In the 1990s she was the first Georgian artist to work with feminist themes. In 2000, the conceptual artist emigrated to Germany in search of a fertile cultural environment. More recently, her work has received new attention through her participation in various exhibitions and fairs. Most recently, her works were shown in spring 2018 in a solo exhibition at the Georgian National Museum and the Tbilisi Silk Museum. Since 2008 works by the artist are part of the collection of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA).
Text: Helen Wobbe