Katharina Fritsch’s iconic and singular sculpture plays on the tension between reality and apparition, between the familiar and the surreal or uncanny. Her iconic objects, images, installations and sound works seem able to imprint themselves on the mind, as if they were gestalts or things we have seen and experienced before. Hearts, crosses, skulls, bottles and Madonnas are used to play on the fantasies and images that we share, but they are transformed through colour and material into things open and mysterious: latent notions transfigured into primal forms.
Fritsch often recasts characters and elements from her own, private world. In works such as Tischgesellschaft (Company at Table), (1988), subjects – usually male – are transformed through colour and material into frozen, hyperreal beings that seem without otherworldly apparitions. The clarity, austerity and precision of Fritsch’s forms is developed through a lengthy manual sculpting process, a way to achieve the near industrial perfection of their finish.
Fritsch also reworks memories or fantasies into strange, unsettling visions that confront the viewer with their bold directness, formal accuracy and startling geometry. In her last solo exhibition at White Cube Hoxton, Fritsch created a dreamlike garden with a series of brightly hued silk-screen postcards of Essen sent to the artist as a child from her grandfather that resonate with both personal and cultural nostalgia.
Singular forms are often used repeatedly to create a psychotic proliferation, placed in a strictly gridded tableaux or in perfect concentric circles for example Rattenkönig (Rat-King), (1991-1993) or Kind mit Pudeln (Child with Poodles), (1995-1996). Fritsch’s work often has unsettling religious or quasi-spiritual associations and is deeply psychological, as if she is attempting to give an image to our deepest fears recovered from the world of myth, religion, cultural history and everyday life.
Katharina Fritsch was born in 1956 in Essen, Germany and lives and works in Düsseldorf. She represented Germany in the 46th Venice Biennale and has had many solo exhibitions including the Art Institute of Chicago (2012), Kunsthaus Zurich (2009) and the Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2009), White Cube, London (2006), K21, Düsseldorf (2002), Tate Modern, London (2001), Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (1997), SF MOMA (1996) and Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1993). Her work has also been included in numerous international group shows including Out of the Ordinary, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (2013); ILLUMinations, 54th Venice Biennale (2011), Fourth Plinth Finalists Group Show, St. Martins in the Fields, London (2010), 10,000 Lives: 8th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea (2010) Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today, MOMA, New York (2008), Lyon Biennale (2003) and HYPERMENTAL. Wahnhafte Wirklichkeit 1950 - 2000 von Salvador Dalí bis Jeff Koons, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2000).