‹Stella› Reto Leibundgut

12.1208- 3.1.09

From the very beginning of Reto Leibundgut`s artistic activity, he exclusively concentrates on using secondhand, old material. The essence of his works is formed by the large collection and accumulation of material. By mostly using materials as wood, leather, plastic or textiles, which he handles in an elaborate way, he transforms them into a new context. He is interested in transforming the assumed, battered material into something stunningly new. Regarding the contents he is not just recycling material, but images as well. Using models as old needle points, pornographic images or photographs. By means of traditional, assumedly outdated techniques as inlays or embroideries, contents are being transformed into a new dimension. Questioning the familiar perception and trying to irritate it. You are always able to find a well-balanced mix of panels and installations; and the panels do have a physical presence stretching out into the room.

In his current exhibition the artist is bringing different groups of work together, pointing out his thematic main focus of the last years. In his oeuvre the carpet inlays do play an important role. At first sight they just seem to be old, worn down oriental carpets, at second sight they emerge as patchworks, made out of single pieces, newly arranged into oriental floor coverings. The artist has been dissolving orna-ments, composing colors to colors, patterns to patterns or even inserting texts; the results are new, supposedly perfect pieces. For a couple of years he has been producing needle points; mainly displaying self-portraits titled “Roger”. The new series “Star” is presenting women portraits of small format, a star covering their features, which gives them in a voyeuristic view the aura of real stars. The small sculpture “Scull” is a fusion of a cat- and bird scull made of pure silver. On the one hand the wonderful, filigree work is an example for an absurd animal-cross, on the other hand it is a nasty comment on Damian Hirst`s iconic diamond scull “For the Love of God”. Reto Leibundgut has always been enga-ged in graphic works, laying his interest mainly on the technique of woodcut. Using photographs as basis, whose resolutions are modified to such an extent that they only exist of unsubtle light-dark contrasts. Images taken from American real estate adds are the guidelines of his three new woodcuts. The pictures made out of cardboard shingles, whose fine color gradient slightly remind one of the cardboard boxes from which they result, are also new. They continue the older shingle works and draw a bow to the huge installation “Chromic Itch”, which is currently shown at the Centre PasquArt in Biel. (till 11.1. 2009). Finally the wooden clubs make one think of anatomic set pieces or archaic clubs, therein engraved one can read texts taken from daily received spam mail.

All of Reto Leibundgut`s works are of a puzzling straightforwardness. His art is using old materials and techniques but nevertheless is appearing very up-to-date. He is messing us about and is provoking with perfection an uneasiness, which can not be denied. On the one hand you are attracted to the meticulously crafted pieces, on the other hand you are repelled by their raw, rough way of making.

 

 

Bernhard Bischoff, December 2008

 

Translation: Patsy Kornfeld