Thomas Rentmeister

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Udo Kittelmann: A Foreword or the Brown Period

Catalogue foreword from the exhibition “Thomas Rentmeister. braun / brown”, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 02.02. – 25.03.2001; in Thomas Rentmeister. braun / brown, (cat.) Kölnischer Kunstverein, Ostfildern 2002, German p. 4f, English p. 6f., translated from German by John S. Southard.

Impressively documented in this publication, the 2001 exhibition “braun” (brown) was the first show of a retrospective nature devoted to the sculptural oeuvre of the Cologne artist Thomas Rentmeister. Beginning with his early works from the 1980s and extending to his most recent articulations on the theme of sculpture, the exhibition focused primarily on the colour brown, from which the show took its title.

Rentmeister’s sculptures, many of which are formed in polyester, are always immersed in “tasty” colours: chocolate, light-nougat or creamy caramel tones. In a physical sense, they look somehow temporary, perishable, an impression that is often underscored by their seemingly melting form. Of his own works, the artist has said: “It is true that the essential aspect of my highly polished polyester sculptures is their surface. If I could, I would leave out everything concealed beneath it and let the sculptures lie around in real space like virtual shells or infinitely thin-walled soap bubbles. But since that isn’t possible, I try to give them a hyper-artificial appearance that seems out of place in reality through intensive processing by hand, so that at least the idea of a virtual body can take shape in the imagination. I steer the objects toward the virtual, so to speak, to the extent that reality permits.”

Thomas Rentmeister is one of only a few artists who have turned once again to three-dimensional sculptural form in this age of digital, virtual images. Seductively smooth and perfect, Thomas Rentmeister’s sculptures seem to crawl across the floor in an illusion of motion, assuming an almost lifelike existence in space, while the older works in the exhibition – beginning with his variations on coffee – describe the uniquely rigorous and independent artistic position the artist has since established in the international art world.

© Udo Kittelmann

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