Patricia Low Contemporary, St. Moritz, presents Fama -Good and bad speech after death, a two-person summer exhibition by Berlin based artists Stefan Rinck and Gabriel Vormstein.
In Roman mythology Fama is the goddess of fame and renown; a deity of literary conception whose gossip could praise or slander a person.
For the exhibition Rinck presents a series of sculptures carved from sandstone, a material used in Gothic cathedrals. These forms are ironic, sometimes kitsch conceptions of seemingly antique representations with the overarching theme ‘From Ovation to Resignation- From Emperor to Dwarf’. The menagerie of comically chimerical creatures ranges from serpents, snakes, demons, and owls, to noble personages, even pin-up girls. They have titles such as Napoleon Owl, The Storm, The frightened King, Agitator Owl, The Executioner, Leviathan, Inquisitor, Crusader, The Vampire and Ichneumon. These monstrosities allude to the dissolution of Western empire’s past and present with its propaganda, agitation, proletarian utopias, and austerity. Installed on an enormous low pedestal they are protagonists of derision and doubt that mock the ceremonial pomposity of today’s power brokers. Surrounded by dubious court jesters, the diminished kings of the world are reduced into frightened dwarfs.
Vormstein is known for his appropriations of iconic symbols and well-recognized figures from classical to Modern avant-garde art. For Fama, a mythological female figure from Botticelli is set amidst a floral pattern drawn onto sheets of daily newspapers collaged into a grid of four parts. Consistently in his work the images spill out then recede, bleeding into and out of the obfuscated newspaper ink. Embedded into all of Vormstein’s gestural sublimations are the still visible typography layed out in columns of editorial op-eds, current news events, and classified listings or commercial advertisements. Floral and abstract blots fuse into an ornamental buttress of beautiful patterns surrounding the figurative ‘deities’. Ichnographically and materially speaking their faded patina is memento mori to the continuous cycle of calendar history, life, and death. Contemporary paradigmatic shifts reverberate with classical antiquity in an endless loop. Additionally, modestly scaled wall mounted sculptural works of found tree limbs with brightly painted neo-geo details compliment the raw surfaces of the two-dimensional works. They imply that the organisms of nature and the logic of man-made structures can co-exist despite the gradual decline of modern civilization.
In the age of ousted dictators, soft power, mercenary armies, and a ruthlessly manipulated society, Rinck’s cynical wit and Vormstein’s unapologetic Romanticism knowingly exploit the implied contradictions in ‘good and bad speech’.