Achim RIETHMANN (*1979 in London, UK)
grew up in Berlin (Germany)
Lives and works in Berlin (Germany)
A group of an anonymous brigade of five helmets may make one immediately think of a police force or a motorbike gang. Only upon longer contemplation do the differences that give each of the uniformly painted helmets a characteristic expression of its own – a “face” – become clear. Do they stand for protection or menace? Mounted as they are on black metal poles, the group of sculptures have a veritably warlike appearance. The helmets recall heads on spikes, or trophies. Their shiny surface and apparent lightness mean that they could also be part of a puppet theatre, however. The artist’s paintings, which will be presented in an extra artistic space from November, appear at first glance like shards of glass on a white background – scattered, ambiguous splinters of colour, without context, randomly spread, incomplete. Riethmann uses oils to make realistic representations of bodies in male clothing. In doing so, he succeeds in showing movement, gesture and even feelings such as rage and aggression in all their rawness, while at the same time not revealing anything more than he must. On the contrary, he invites the observer to fill the white space with their own associations and to recall their own memories – of violence, rebellion or fear – that may seem long familiar to them, but that do not yet have a name or a face. By anonymising his figures, by leaving the gaps he does, Riethmann creates a distance between us and the people he seems to be showing. Without any context to explain what is happening, without allowing any empathy or sympathy, the artist opens up a new way of looking at human actions. The observer is given the opportunity to let the fragments speak for themselves and to interpret their relationship to one another.
Text: Mirka Gewinner