Selected works by Stefan Kurten

Stefan Kurten
Ultramarine II

2004

Oil on Canvas

120 x 150cm
Stefan Kürten’s architecture-based compositions propose a new Germany growing over abandoned constructs and aspirations of a fading past, where memories are broken down and allowed to mutate into dizzying pattern and abstraction – and, notably, where man-made structures and nature are seen to coalesce.
Stefan Kurten
The Handsome Family

2004

Oil on Canvas

190 x 270cm
Decorativeness and ornament permeate his oil paintings. The surfeit of roots, branches, foliage and flowers looming over interior objects and neat brick walls is almost impossible to take in all at once. The subjects in the mid-century art collector chic of Ultramarine II (2004), the busy pattern and soft furnishings of Long Time Now (2002) and the backyard vertigo of flora and collapsed modernist housing of The Handsome Family (2004) and Heartbeat (2004-2005) share a slightly aggressive sense of wild, untamed beauty perhaps most disquieting in the overgrown brutalism of Silence (2001). Rich metallic tones imbue his motifs with an unreal, oneiric, displacing them from their usual context, as if referencing the look and connotation of religious illuminations.
Stefan Kurten
Silence

2001

Oil on Canvas

188 x 267cm

Kürten’s catalogue of imagery merges the impersonal with an intimate sense of presence, creating a weird domestic geography that’s both comforting in its familiarity and asphyxiating in its excessive detail. As the artist puts it, ‘the paintings are differing versions of an idyll, or rather stages of disappearing idylls. They seem to find a last refuge in all sorts and styles of picturesque houses with manicured lawns and cosy living rooms, or tamed and domesticated versions of nature, the gardens and parks of our communal recreation, counter-images and escapes from the quotidian and its purposeful rationality. Like faded images from a long expired dream, their very lack of authenticity makes them true.’

Stefan Kurten
Long Time Now

2002

Oil on Canvas

145 x 190cm
Stefan Kurten
Heartbeat

2004-5

Oil on Canvas

190 x 270cm

Articles

Stefan Kurten - Reviews - Brief Article


By David Frankel, ArtForum, Sept 2002 Looking at Stefan Kurten's painting Long Time Now, 2002, I suddenly thought of an old children's-book illustration for a long-unremembered nursery rhyme: "Little Jack Homer sat in a corner, / Eating his Christmas pie"--that one. The artist had imagined a small boy sitting scrunched on the floor in a corner, gazing wonderingly at a pie he held on his lap. Though the child was brightly lit, the room's walls, towering above him, rose up in shadowy darkness--and they were covered with the wildest wallpaper, a universe of magical symbols and signs. Even now I love that picture: Surrounded by intimations of the enormous world, wide, various, and not completely safe, the boy is yet intent on immediate pleasures and nourishments, if a little awed by them as well.
Long Time Now shows a familiar kind of interior, a modernist living room. In a style once radical and now commonplace in suburbia, the house has glass walls; we are looking into the junction of two of them, a corner comfortably furnished with armchairs, a rug, a designer lamp. The stretch of glass is framed on the right by a panel of crazy-paving masonry (part of a fireplace, maybe) and on the left by the dark leaves of a big philodendron--one of several potted plants lined up on a wide sill at floor level under the window. The plants rise up ... and up ... and utterly fill the glass with pattern and color. Actually, some of this must be outside, the greenery indoors fusing visually with the blossom and foliage in the garden; but in the painting's odd space (the spread of flowers is a flat wall, though there's a ninety-degree angle in there somewhere) the two are indistinguishable. As in the Little Jack Homer illustration, a deliriously wild nature watches over an island of comfort, revealing it as funny, fra gile, and dear.

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