A retrospective is an art exhibition, a retrospective is a review, a retrospective conveys an artist’s complete work – and a superretrospective?

Fade in. A screen of frozen water, erected in close proximity to a small river. This permeable wall made of numerous icicles appears at once like a foreign body in a wintery landscape. No, not like a foreign body, it fits too well into the landscape for that. It looks more like an artificially erected structure, whereby its origin and purpose remains at first unclear. Furthermore, some of the conically shaped icicles stretch their thin ends skywards against the gravitational pull of the earth. But not for long. Several scenes later in the film, a man appears who, with a run-up, breaks through the wall of ice – naked. Cut. The previously displayed name identifies, at the same time, the creator of the ice wall and its destroyer: ‘EISENBERGER’. Thus begins the trailer for a documentary whose main protagonist is the same Eisenberger. Christian. Exceptional Austrian artist. His now third solo exhibition at Galerie Martinetz is simply titled SUPERRETROSPEKTIVE. How is that possible? In the aforementioned trailer for the film about Christian Eisenberger – the world premiere of which will take place in Leipzig on the 30th October 2018 – it states that the artist has created over 45 000 works. One only needs to imagine for a moment in order to realize that an entire museum would have to be built in order to show this number of works. Therefore a superretrospective can not be a retrospective. Not when it comes to Christian Eisenberger. Well what then?

A preoccupation with nature continues to play an important role in Christian Eisenberger’s work today. Again and again, many of his works are created directly in nature and often by means of nature. Thus an untitled installation made of burdock (Arctium) can be seen in Eisenberger’s SUPERRETROSPEKTIVE in Cologne. For which the artist collected thousands of these fruits that have tiny elastic hooks and like to get stuck on clothes and in animal fur – but can also hook onto each other. And so he placed burs on top of burs around a core hanging from the ceiling. The finished structure is reminiscent of a human body. Below – installed on the floor – he formed a five-pointed star out of seeds. As part of a recent series, he reproduced branches and tree parts as aluminium castings that shimmer silver due to the material alloy, but make all the details such as the buds or the bark appear deceptively real. Thus, nature becomes a distorted nature, organic becomes inorganic as its material composition and colour is changed. Additionally, Eisenberger hangs objects such as a crucified Jesus Christ cast in bronze from the aluminium branches, through which their content is broadened.

Even prey catching techniques of natural hunters are reflected in the works of Christian Eisenberger. For his series of spiderweb pieces he allowed spiders (arachnida) as the perfect trappers fall into a traps themselves. With a trained hand, the artist removes the webs previously made by the spiders and fixes them with glue and hairspray onto canvas or paper. Similar to Arnulf Rainer’s overpaintings, Eisenberger is not concerned with extinguishing or destroying. On the contrary it is the details that are emphasized by the partially overlapping traps (think, for example, of Andreas Slominski’s ‘traps’). A natural pattern is inscribed on to the surface; a graphic impression arises. It is the mostly incidental things that we hardly notice in everyday life that Christian Eisenberger pays attention to. It is in this way, with small gestures that great works full of humour and empathy for the wonders of nature are created.

For years now Eisenberger has also been concerned with the human head, more precisely with its basic form. Using a variety of painting techniques he repeatedly depicts the basic principle of human physiognomy, this usually consists of three geometric forms and the outline of the head. Two circles next to each other symbolise the eyes, a single circle the mouth, that appears, in Eisenberger’s work, like an expression of amazement or shock. Eisenberger’s ‘scribbles’ are created on A4 paper with a ballpoint pen – on train journeys, while watching TV, on the telephone or during conversations. Adornments of the outlines of figures that cover the entire sheet alternate with drawings that could be found on everyday notes such as bank numbers or initial sketches of ideas for later installations or sculptures. The closer one looks the more there is to discover. For example, everyday wisdom reminiscent of an early Martin Kippenberger: „Welches Laub fällt nicht von Bäumen? Urlaub“ (Which leaves do not fall from trees? Vacation).


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