Installation view

Installation view, with Bernhard Schreiner

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view, with Maximilian Rödel

Onlookers approaching the work of Frankfurt-based Felix Kultau might find his materials mundanely familiar upon initial glance. The immediate appearance of his pieces elicits the standardized expectations indicative of their typical place within the dazzling domain of consumption. They invite under a guise cultivated within everyday life. For this, an apprehension of his work starts with the trivially recognizable, although by no means does it remain there. At once, the offer of each work is torn asunder and its damaged and mangled components leave much to be desired. It is in this precise moment that the Städelschule alumni reveals the ruse: left to its own device, how might one comes to terms with a perpetually elusive satisfaction? Can a path of despair garner the reflective strength to find solace in its experience?

Kultau (born 1984) foments this unrequited desire, at first tickled by the comfortably ordinary and then abruptly obstructed by the emptiness of its trajectory. For this, Kultau’s work can accurately be described as Sehnsuchtsdisplay: instilling an impression that knows neither what it wants, nor how to attain it even if it did. One is left with an unreconciled immediacy through a sense of incompleteness, disoriented from unfulfilled promises and leaving disappointment in its wake. The work exposes a frustrated longing stunted in ambivalence. Wasting itself in yearning, the viewer comes face to face with its thwarted expectation and is instead left to makes sense of the exposed lie emanating from Kultau’s displays. Bearing this misfortunate weight, the work instills a wager upon the viewer: a sightless and barren desire can either ramble on in ceaseless and incoherent immediacy of artificial experience, or determinately confront its own destitution without any guarantee of recovery. The latter route, if engaged, perceptively replaces the charm of the object with the allure of its ruin.