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Tillman Kaiser

Tillman Kaiser
All images © Tillman Kaiser

Contemporary revisions of Modernism abound in recent art, but of the many artists plumbing such territory Tillman Kaiser is certainly one of the most interesting.

The real success of any reappraisal of historic movements depends on some form of reattribution, and in this respect, the fundamental utopianism of the Modernist ethos is perfectly placed to provide ready-made commentary on the ultimate failure of its progressive ideals in the face of subsequent 20th century history.

Tillman Kaiser
Tillman Kaiser, 'Tapeworm', 2008, tempera on canvas.

Kaiser's work is, of course, reflective of such irony, but functions above all as an exercise in visual dynamics. Pairing cool, limited colour with powerful form, Kaiser's practice exudes a simultaneous foreignness and familiarity which, while highly suggestive of various scions of early 20th century art and design, also possesses an amorphously atemporal quality.

Shades of Surrealism and Dada claim a place alongside the more obvious influences of Constructivism and Bauhaus design; other, less immediately discernible aesthetic and cultural references also abound, such as nods towards Op Art, psychedelia, and the 'space-race'-inspired decorative fantasies of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Tillman Kaiser

On the subject of the extra-terrestrial, the moon, of late, has become something of a recurring motif in Kaiser's work, featuring in sculptural pieces such as Der Mond ist aufgegangen, (2011, left), or Moontrap, (below).

Indicative not only of a certain, literal lunacy in the artist's rampant eclecticism, this choice of symbol also seems to perfectly embody the simultaneous romance and pragmatism inherent to his practice.

The moon, after all, evokes highly dissonant inferences as both symbol and physical entity. Conquered by science, explored, probed and mapped, it also retains much of its sense of remoteness and poetic evocative power.

Tillman Kaiser

It's tempting to see Kaiser's fascination with the grey planet as paradigmatic of his own fusion of immediately recognisable, well-trammelled visual vocabularies into strangely unfamiliar artefacts.

Tillman Kaiser

more artist profiles: Allison Schulnik | Oskar Dawicki | Sara Ramo | Nora Schultz | Nicholas Hlobo | Joana Vasconcelos

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