Friedrich Kunath

Romanticism reimagined in dreamlike compositions.

Artist stood before three large scale canvases behind him with colourful patterns on
Friedrich Kunath focusing on a canvas with mixed green paint which he is working into with a small paintbrush
artist with back turned to camera as he raises his arms to hang picture on a wall of images hung up
7 images

Friedrich Kunath was born in 1974 in Chemnitz, Germany and now lives in Los Angeles, US - a seismic cultural shift explored throughout his practice.

Career

Landmark, 320-page monograph -Friedrich Kunath: I Don’t Worry Anymore - published by Rizzoli Electa in 2018.

Did you know?

The artist names German painter Walter Dahn as a pivotal influence, on account of a shared desire to connect the art with music via references to their enmeshed history and theory.

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Practice overview

Kunath saturates his art in irony, nostalgia and pathos. Working predominantly in painting, but also across sculpture, installation and film, he roots his practice in unlikely stylistic juxtapositions. Vast landscapes and fragments of still life recall 19th century Romanticism and Northern Baroque painting, while cartoon characters, 90s song lyrics and tropical sunsets nod to contemporary popular culture and holiday-postcard clichés. The works use heavy textural contrast, with thick oil impasto layered over thin washes of watercolour, and single-line illustrations scratched on top. As well as the paintings themselves, Kunath's installation attests his meta sense of humour. All Your Fears Trapped Inside (2019) shows Kunath’s paintings in a cluttered bedroom behind a glass wall. Displaying his own life as a museum exhibit, Kunath saterisies himself and the archetypal figure of ‘the artist’ - probing questions of legacy, personal freedom and ambition.

The frustration of being unable to adequately express extreme human emotion reaches breaking point in Kunath’s work. Phrases like “FUCK IT, I LOVE YOU” and “SAD OPTIMISM” express a nihilistic resignation to cheesy tropes. However, the exaggerated honesty in Kunath’s work undoes the clichés that it draws from and propels them back to their core meaning. It is as though Kunath ‘lets go’ of any attempt for authenticity, and in doing so, creates work that is deeply authentic. Kunath's strange mix of aesthetic styles, humour and wistful teenage angst cleverly unpicks universal experiences with a charming yet apathetic sentimentality.

“I feel that it’s the very engine of my work, this longing for a place that doesn’t exist - it’s an empty promise.”Friedrich Kunath