Vogelfänger 2007 - 2010

English Title: Bird-catchers

Format:
64 motives, oil on canvas, 30 x 30cm each.

Exhibitions:
Contemp Munich 2011
Art Praha 2010
Mousonturm Frankfurt/Main 2010
Galerie Neurotitan Berlin 2009
Bereznitski Gallery Berlin 2009
Apt. Draschan Vienna 2009
Ausstellungshalle Schulstr. 1A Frankfurt/Main 2008
Kunstverein Friedrichstadt Berlin 2007

Private collections in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, USA & property of the artist.

Hunting scenes from a Garden of Earthly Delights

by Sebastian Preuss

Man and bird, a vey special relationship. Our feathered friends stand on two legs, just like us. Their ability to lift off into the sky and perceive the world from above in boundless freedom fills us with envy as well as having inspired our myths and yearnings for millennia. There must be a reason for so many eagles serving as national heraldic emblems, or for why France honours the Gallic cockerel. Germans use the colloquial expression “vögeln” to describe their love-making activities, Vogel being the German word for bird. Man lusts after birds, he hunts them for pleasure, and rears them in their thousands for food as well as locking them up in concentration camp-like conditions to lay eggs for his consumption. Birds are the epitome of unbridled nature as well as its more elegant and cultivated emanations. It is why nearly every civilisation likes to keep them in cages to enjoy their beauty and their singing at home. Countless species have become extinct due to their human admirers' attentions.

All these connotations play a part in Kai Teichert's Birdcatcher cycle. Producing 64 square canvases over 4 years (2007-2010), each measuring 30 by 30 centimetres, Kai Teichert has created a wonderful and unique series of paintings here. These are joyful scenes from an otherworldly garden of earthly delights. In each painting a man or a woman - in their birthday suits, just like in paradise - are in pursuit of a bird, using all the tricks at their disposal to catch one. The men preferably employ their genitals for attraction. Hence a wiry hunk pushes his penis, worm-like, through the side of a cardboard box, waiting for a seemingly aloof parrot to pounce, so he can shut the lid on top of it. Another youth, feigning sleep, pushes out his bottom, to which a Kiwi appears to be magically drawn, while the bird-catcher clutches a string attached to a kiwi fruit-shaped cudgel, about to be released. The women, too, use their erotic charm to trap beautiful birds. A swallow is inevitably caught in slinky hair, playing bill-and-mouth games with a red-headed woman ends in disaster for an unwitting toucan. A vain peacock falls for the wooing of an old lady with a walking stick, simply because she uses a red fan to obscure her face. An ostrich's pursuit of a bearded guy in an erotic pose also does not end well. Each painting features a different bird species, so the entire cycle is also a lusty ornithological excursion. Kai Teichert's imagination is boundless, his frivolous visions are presented like a serial interpretation of dreams. Catching birds in this joyful paradise becomes an allegory for sexual desire, but the human urge to tame nature's beauty also plays a part. Man and beast - a fabulously terrible liaison.

Kai Teichert's technique is old-masterly. He draughts his naked human forms in light and often airy brushstrokes, modelling their flesh and their erotic charms. The birds appear as if just daubed on with the tip of a brush, yet are thoroughly characteristic. The backgrounds are wonderful: full of abstract colour formations, glowing with exciting inner structures. Everything is luminous, it heightens the paradisical effect.

These cheerful paradise landscapes give way to darker, often black backgrounds in the last quarter of the cycle. The action changes and the beast turn on the humans now. In the end they merge into surreal composite creatures: doves with voluptuous breasts, huge male genitals on bird's legs, feathered humans, or birds with the face of a woman. The final picture is really morbid, when Kai Teichert montages his photo self-portrait onto an undead bird skeleton. An empty cage-trap, similar to one depicted in the first picture of the series, and more genitals flying about, point to the futility of the chase. Eventually we're all faced with death, and what remains is our imagination. It is the latter, which finds ample stimulation in this series.

Sebastian Preuss, deputy editor-in-chief Weltkunst magazine, Berlin 2016
translated into English by Jörg von Stein