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Somnambulist Architecture II

Weiss Falk Gallery presents Somnambulist Architecture by Veit Laurent Kurz

Brick and expression – a stark contradiction or match made in heaven, or hell? For Liste Art Fair 2022, Weiss Falk presents new stunning work by German painter and sculptor Veit Laurent Kurz.

Burnt at a hellish temperature of about 1000 °C brick forms the solid building blocks of about 4000 years of human civilization. Wherever rock was sparse, brick stood in for manmade erections of almost any kind, from temple to toilet. With no style too bold for brick to keep up with real stone’s architectural extravaganza, Brick Expressionism (German: Backsteinexpressionismus) indulged in the “crimes” of ornamental meaning in 1920s Germany. A hundred years later, this peculiar artistic material (a plain mix of sand and clay) re-enters the scenery of contemporary art.

With a solid practice in figurative painting, phantasmagorical sculpture and immersive environments, Veit Laurent Kurz (*1985) has most recently turned his acute awareness of historical detail and aesthetic affect towards two artistic trajectories in Northern European architecture: the seminal Sachlichkeit work of Hans and Marlene Pölzig in Germany on the one hand and Dutch organic architecture on the other – and the tensions between and within those forces of culture, function and phantasy.

While the depiction of brick has appeared in many of his paintings as an eerie backdrop, Kurz re-introduces brick to his atmospheric installation for Liste Art Fair, now as a means of sculpture. Creating three lookalike brick panels (made of the natural building material cork) to cover the three plaster walls of the booth, the contradiction between the most flexible, lightweight and invisible of wall material (and context) and the spectacle of the seemingly heavy, earthy grid of blocks forms more than a backdrop, but a firm ground for interior, a real reason.

The interior of the booth is the interior of the booth: furniture on a terrace-like floor. An armchair to sit, a table to use. Or are they really?

The realist function of Kurz’ sculptural objects is undermined by their expressionist form. Bastardizing the ardent shape of multi-arched cathedral windows with the idle angle of a sun chair this seating wants more than your butt. Painting drips further defy gravity from either side of the backrest. A curved table at the center of the arrangement seems to reject the assumption of furniture ultimately, resembling a public fountain rather than a private facility.

The middle ground of this tableau vivant of a booth stages the performance of the previous elements – the dubbed enclosure and the specious fittings – completing the performance of the booth as such.

The title of the installation, Somnambulist Architecture being a bow to the 1920 German expressionist silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari epitomizes the go-for-broke verve of the artists mildly megalomaniac enterprise, actual architecture. Entertaining the threshold of heaven and hell, dream and nightmare, dys- and utopia Veit Laurenz Kurz’ new work sleepwalks the fine line between inhabitation and inhibition, between ornament devouring itself (and its culture) and the world’s wide open webs of ever new pasts.