The 69-year-old New York-based American painter and sculptor Richard Artschwager is one of the most interesting personalities in the international art scene. Not only because of his extensive oeuvre which thematically utilises the room to move between the borders of conventional genres; he also has decisive influence on the young and mid artist generation, e.g. Harald Klingelhöller and Katharina Fritsch who have both exhibited at Portikus. Therefore, an Artschwager exhibition has belonged to the long-standing desiderata in the concept of our programme. The artist takes up the challenge which has given Portikus its reputation of being a "box for experimentation": by altering his original concept of an all-encompassing wall-painting by adding sculptural set pieces, he treads new ground. The entire space is now filled with furniture, the appearance of which is not comparable, however, to Artschwager's earlier furniture paintings: they are present in the form of packaging boxes. In this manner he unfolds a metaphor for art exhibitions as such: a given, neutral ambience is temporarily "furnished" and thus upholds its distinctive, albeit mobile image. At the same time, the installation incorporates a subtle play with the fetishizing perception of the connoisseur. The act of exhibiting becomes an act of refusal.

The chain of references does not end with this, however. The works' seeming refusal to display the contents of the packages triggers the viewer's imagination. This is also effected by the decentrally-placed main piece of the installation entitled Splatter Table and Chairs. It summarises in short possible exhibition objects, in a manner, however, that inextricably tangles up and fragmentises all ingredients. We may take it that Artschwager's ambiguous and humorous intervention again enriches the face of the shoe box called Portikus with a hitherto unseen facet.

Photos: Katrin Schilling