10 September – 23 October 1999
Katharina Fritsch is essentially an image-maker. In her work, Fritsch draws a line between the physical actuality of an object, and its existence as an image in the mind. The artist traces her choice of objects back to visions she has had, and her imagery is an idiosyncratic mix that distils childhood memories and sensations, draws on archetypes, and combines Catholic allegory with German folklore.
For her exhibition at White Cube, Fritsch installed Mönch (Monk) (1997-99), which hovered in the gallery as a dark and ominous presence. The vividness of encountering this work is disarmingly at odds with normal perceptual experience—the artist’s objects often appear to be the products of a heightened state of perception. Fritsch is fastidious about the detail of her sculptures, everything from a precise colour tone to the look of the smallest edge is subjected to precise scrutiny, until an ideal form and finish is finally reached. In much of her work, binary oppositions are brought into play: the empty exhibition space and the designed form, the commodity and the religious fetish, black and white, the rational and the irrational; good and evil; the clear and the opaque.
While many of her early works were handcrafted, Fritsch now makes only the models for her sculptures and then hands these over to a factory for production, to near-pathological specifications. She utilises this industrial production process to make a limited number of near-perfect objects. The status of these objects hovers between the rare and the multiple, akin to prototypes that never get put into mass production. In the adjoining space, Fritsch exhibited two emblematic sculptures: Totenkopf (Skull) (1998) and Maus (Mouse) (1998), a dense, black creature standing on its hind legs.