Below is a highly critical, you might say scathing review of my work from the German art journal “Gegenwartskunst für Hefte”. I should have never let them interview me!
Rising art star Erich Küns has been heralded as Germany’s answer to Jeff Koons, but an ostensibly off-the-record interview with the artist reveals he is anything but.
The brochure for the Malagor Gallery paints a sophisticated and philosophical picture of Küns’ artwork, which is worth quoting:
Erich Küns’ organic light sculptures blur the boundary between the perceptual and actual. The flickering lights suggest not only the neural synapses within the brain, but the fleeting and intermittent awareness we have of our corporeal selves. He challenges the belief in solidity not only of the body, but of the self. The flittering lights remind us of the ethereal nature of consciousness itself. After spending time with his sculptures, one begins to feel a certain weightlessness which slowly fades over the course of the day.
His most ambitious piece, D-Toom in D-Minor, a giant flickering detumescent member, first makes us laugh, but then stealthily glides us into lingering contemplation of aging, disappointment, failure, and ultimate acceptance. Küns shows us that decay and failure are beautiful, integral parts of nature. The member seems exhausted, but gleems with another kind of vitality – light itself – which signals the source that animates all of us.
That seemed a bit overblown, so I decided to invite Erich to join me for a few beers and see if I could get straight from him what his work was really about. After imbibing the better part of a kranz of Kölsch, Doppelbock, and Weihnachtsbier, Erich seemed to have forgotten that I’m an art critic, and not his old drinking buddy, Jürgen Fritz. For the sake of art history, I didn’t clear up the confusion.
During the course of the evening Küns revealed that it was all nonsense, and he just served up “ridiculous rubbish” to an art audience that only wanted fashion. I can do no better than quote the MP3 recording I made. Küns confessed that it all started in graduate school.
“I was going to fail. The teachers hated my Expressionistic paintings, and everyone thought I was hopelessly backwards. I was like an Australopithecus. I couldn’t get a date. I might as well have dragged my knuckles on the ground and carried around a club. Finally I had an emotional breakdown and just started doing angry, stupid art. I got so angry I brought in a roll of toilet paper and dispenser. I had unscrewed it from my bathroom. And I screwed it into the classroom wall, and sat a few feet across from it. The toilet paper made a bridge from the roll to my mouth and I slowly ate about 30% of the roll. Everyone loved it. They literally said I “evolved”. One of the girls invited me to her studio that afternoon. That’s how it started. My modus operandi from then on was to wait until I get so angry and frustrated with art school that I’d think up something infuriatingly stupid to make, then I’d make it and present it to my teachers and classmates. I ended up getting a fellowship.”
I asked if his current piece was in the same vein. Absolutely it was, and some of the most “inane drivel” he’d ever served up. Küns had worked a temp job for a company that produced large scale Christmas ornaments for businesses and shopping centers, and he got so fed up with the “cloying vapidity of the aesthetics” that he decided to “sling them in the face of the art aficionados”. The centerpiece of the current show, D-Toom, is actually a Santa hat. The only alteration he made was to change the color of the bulbs from red to blue, which he knew how to do because installing the bulbs was “the mindlessly repetitive task [he] performed for weeks on end” as a temp. With this slight alteration, he presented the sitting Santa hat as a dangling member. I asked him if doing this was itself art, a proposition he vehemently rejected.
“It’s just bullocks. The people who designed it know nothing of art history. It’s just a decoration with no attempt whatsoever at addressing the human condition. It’s not a stylistic innovation. But it’s bigger than a painting and three dimensional and lights up, so it’s seen as post-modern. Because it’s completely meaningless people feel challenged to find meaning in it. It ends up being like Justin Bieber’s used T-shirt that suddenly attains a mystical value and becomes a priceless commodity. If it has any importance, it’s all in the head of the viewer. But in reality it’s garbage.”
There you have it from the artist’s own mouth. He makes infuriatingly insipid art to taunt the art audience, and for this he has been awarded some of the highest accolades for a living artist. Does it matter that Küns believes his own work is worthless crap if people are snapping it up for a million or more dollars? Who decides which art matters: the artist, the buyer, the curator, or the critic? This time I’m going to side with the artist. Küns artwork is unadulterated shit.
~ Hans Bathlet
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