Kai Richter: Trocken Galerie Christian Lethert 31.10.2009 - 19.12.2009
We are pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of Kai Richter at our gallery. Kai Richter builds three-dimensional “sculptures” in connection with and response to the respective room conditions: he reacts towards them, changes them, highlights them—and in doing so, allows us to experience them as rooms differently and in a new way.
One of the oddities of art historical terminology is that the word ”constructions” largely implies intellectual planning achievements and not the processes of assembling itself, which are rather material, physical, and sensual actions—such as we find in the sculptural work of Kai Richter. Richter constructs his works in the literal sense (Lat. construere = to build, erect); in doing this, his concern is not for carrying out the plan, but for working freely with the specific characteristics of his materials and the peculiarities of the exhibition rooms. Architecture is the paradigm of constructing; this applies to a certain extent to Kai Richter as well. What constructing really means may be studied better at construction sites than when the buildings themselves have been finished. What the artist admires as the “timeless beauty” of construction site constructions, from which he learned a lot for his own artistic creations, is the pragmatic use of tools and materials, but above all the honesty and clarity in treating the wholly individual plastic vocabulary revealed there.
The aesthetic attraction of Richter’s works is not a self-serving purpose, but arises incidentally; it comes about as a result of the free treatment open to improvisations of the often brittle and awkward materials. A work such as “Doka”, which seems like a free, contemporary etude on the age-old theme of “bundled columns” already indicates in its title the basic material used: the yellow-colored concrete form supports made by the Austrian Doka Company. As a plastic form “Doka” spans from the floor to the ceiling, supporting the room metaphorically instead of tectonically, thus laconically making a theme of the relationship between sculpture and architecture, form and space.
What continues to surprise us about Richter’s works is the fact of how much poetry, humor and lightness he suffuses into his prosaic means, the construction wood, scaffolding poles, and plasterboards. Like a jazz musician strictly adhering to the harmonic sequences of a melody while transporting them into improvisational lightness, Richter treats the plastic elementary themes of volume and mass, gravity and statics as well as the dialectics of stress and support. With Kai Richter there are no finely-chiseled form constructions built to last an eternity, but rather generous, open gestures, a clear grasp of the room situations and the corresponding sculptural reaction to it. This understanding of sculpture gains its wholly individual power from the fact that in its plastic force and sensitivity, the feeling for the room and sensual aspects of the material merge together.