press release

Tillman Kaiser. Im Dom
September 13 – November 10, 2019

Press conference: Thursday, September 12, 2019, 10 a.m.
Opening: Thursday, September 12, 2019, 7 p.m.

In his exhibitionIm Dom in the Secession’s main gallery, Tillman Kaiser presents a new cycle of large-format pictures and sculptures created especially for the occasion. A church or cathedral is not a functional structure; synthesizing diverse arts—architecture, sculpture, and painting—it possesses a beauty that is an end in itself. With a nod to the Kantian idea of disinterested pleasure, Kaiser argues that all art—his, certainly—aspires to beauty in this sense. Made in the studio, his work does not depend onthe interaction with a specific exhibition site. And yet the half-laconic, half-ironic title he has chosen for his show, which translates as In the Cathedral, transplants us into an ecclesiastical space and hints at thepossibility of a spiritual experience. It is a deft stratagem, drawing a connection between the Secession—conceived at the dawn of modernism as a total work of art and “temple” of beauty—and his own oeuvrewhile questioning the institution’s status and signaling critical distance.

Kaiser’s pictures combine photography with painting and graphic art. Photographs recorded with a homemade camera obscura as well as cyanotypes made without the use of a camera are the material he subsequently reworks in a painterly process. Each photo from the pinhole camera consists of severalpieces of photographic paper, and his pictures, usually in large formats, are in turn composed of multiplephotographs pasted onto the canvas. The basis of his works, then, is always already a collage,synthesizing different motifs as well as the iteration and variation of a single motif on one surface andlending the pictures a distinctive rhythm and complexity.

Eyes, ritual masks, a model of a church, and other references from the artist’s studio are central motifs in his work, making frequent appearances in both pictures and sculptures. Most recently, the two genresseem to be coalescing: elements from the sculptures, cobbled together out of a variety of materials,figure in the pictures as photographic images; the sculptures conversely quote structures and motifsfrom the pictures.

Tillman Kaiser was born in Graz in 1972 and lives and works in Vienna.

The exhibition by Tillman Kaiser is mainly sponsored by Arbeiterkammer Wien.