From April 2 to May 28, 2023, the Kasseler Kunstverein will show René Wagner's exhibition "Pole Position" in its reoccupied rooms at the Museum Fridericianum.
The exhibition space of the Kasseler Kunstverein is cut by an approximately 3-meter-high exhibition wall that reveals a giant vehicle modeled on Christopher William's exhibition architecture. As an imposing sculpture, it divides the adjacent wall and wedges itself into the neighboring space. It stands in the way of the exhibition visitors like a wrongly parked car. In its wall are recesses in which illuminated exhibits can be seen. Wagner does without pedestal art in this exhibition. Therefore, his lacquered vases are screwed into the recessed niches lying down in a kind of muffler aesthetic. Wagner had the eye-catching rivets on the exhibition wall, normally found on Japanese car rims, come especially for the show. Borrowings from the Bosozoku Style Tunings become visible. Artfully prepared rims seem to support the exhibition wall.
Hanging from it are paintings made of sheet-thin aluminum with several layers of paint, as well as canvases that have been primed and painted several times in the manner of the old masters. In their bright colors, they recall the '90s hotwheels aesthetic.
By "pole position," Wagner means his own starting position as a chronicler and close observer. The tuning scene on the outskirts of his hometown Hildesheim has always fascinated him. He has captured it a thousand times with his camera while waiting at the bus stop. In the passion and perseverance of the people who tune their cars and then present them in the evening in front of the bus stops outside the village, the artist sees a parallel to the art world, because it too is always looking for the biggest, most beautiful and most successful work of art. Tuning scene in the barn versus art in the studio or tuning scene in the parking lot versus art in the exhibition space.
Wagner does not judge, but places obsessive attention and total perfection to every detail and the associated appreciation for the car polished to a high sheen on the same level as art or his grandmother's Meissen porcelain, which was never allowed to be used and was displayed in the cupboard. The need to measure and optimize seems to be satisfied primarily by superficial surfaces polished to a high gloss.
Wagner combines these worlds in his Meissen porcelain-look aluminum rim, which he has painted in a corresponding pattern to boot. His carefully painted objects reference antiquity, when scenes from life were depicted on utilitarian objects such as vases. What Wagner depicts today is taken primarily from the consumer world. His painted objects leave us with the uneasy feeling of having fallen for their superficiality and wanting to contradict the representation because they torpedo the familiar.
Perhaps René Wagner reflects our need for so-called treasures, which we present in order to enhance ourselves in relation to others. As a visitor, we feel uneasy that our own admiration or need for sublimity can be attached to arbitrary objects and activities and may be ridiculous. Wagner holds up a mirror to us, possibly questioning our own actions and self-absorption.
If René Wagner has his way, the pole position is not the starting place for a race, but the reflection of one's own attitude.
René Wagner (*1983) lives and works in Kassel. He studied fine arts at the Kunsthochschule Kassel.
02.04. - 28.05.2023
Opening: 01.04.2023, 7 pm
Kasseler Kunstverein e. V.
Friedrichsplatz 18, 34117 Kassel