Grids + Dapheworks

mixed media 2011 - 2014
Westwerk Hamburg
Ottohuset near Stavanger, Norway
Kunstverein Familie Montez Honsellbrücke Frankfurt/Main
Saarländische Galerie Palais am Festungsgraben

Daphne - Trees and Tenderness

Introduction to the exhibition in Ottohuset, Norway
by Dorothee Baer-Bogenschuetz

Kai Teichert is adding a new dimension to his work, which has so far been defined by emotion and his impressive, metaphoric vision of reality. For his new show on Finnøy near Stavanger the artist has again taken inspiration from a subject rooted in the old tale of Adam and Eve. This time he takes a humorously ironic look at the Judgement of Paris. Is this permissible? Him, as a contemporary artist, reaching for the plump fruit of Greek mythology?
Like every artist following his own inner calling Kai Teichert doesn't care what people think. Trees and any of their protuberances have long been amongst his key artistic preoccupations. He is convinced that Daphne's story, as told in Ovid's metamorphoses, easily links into all the kindred tree spirits he has been concerned with. “Physical vegetation is beyond the grasp of reason”, he says. Daphne evading the Apollo-principle.
The new cycle of works displayed at Otto Hus posits the primeval against intellect, pure life against cerebral control. Moreover he articulates the ambiguity of not belonging to either, a state boosted by the digital present, with all its opportunities and pitfalls.

The artist has chosen the most intimate subject for this very intimate Norwegian location: Love. Including self-love. Never before in history has the individual had so obsessively self-centred. Keeping on track requires constant self-renewal and self-optimisation. Every lady wants to be a rose, to be plucked by gentlemen seeking to be heart-breakers. What looms is total self-alienation. Kai Teichert's mythological suite for Finnøy reflects our age with its constant role play, accompanied by self-doubt and identity crises, and hence the humble earthling yearning for groundedness. Consequently Kai Teichert also addresses ecological concerns which is apposite as Otto Hus used to be fisherman's cottage, thus bridging the gap between beast and homo sapiens, flora and spiritual existence. “The need to address how mankind treats the natural environment in God's garden has become more urgent than ever. By this I don't mean just our planet's flora and fauna, but also the flora and fauna within every one of us, our urges and dreams, our needs and desires, the amalgam of organic forces into which all the threads of our existence fuse,” says Kai Teichert, who's often himself surprised by where his creative impulse and virtuosity lead him. “You could maybe compare me to a juggler, keeping his balls suspended in the air without anyone, nor himself, being able to tell how many there are.”

This several part series is based on drawings in red chalk on large nettle-canvas banners, which are heightened in washes of thinned acrylic paint and with pastel crayons, like visions from a midsummer night's dream. Masquerade and role play have always provided fertile ground for cultural analysis and fascination for artists. Stealth and exposition, obscuring and revealing, camouflage and exhibitionism have been artistic stratagems for the baroque and the Bauhaus era, for classical modernism and contemporary art, for Tobias Rehberger, John Bock, Cindy Sherman: and artists' parties and artists' carnivals have always been in fashion. Kai Teichert, too, puts people in costume when he concentrates the gaze on Aphrodite's sweetness or Athene's maliciousness. While his own creativity is determined by Pan's spirited or even cheeky lightness of mind. Even though the conditions of human existence might have changed through the ages, man's basic needs have not. Emotions like love and hate, envy and jealousy cannot be unrooted like weeds.

Kai Teichert supplements his Judgement of Paris cycle with drawings of Daphne and other horticultural creatures. Pomona and Pomodoro reference the show's location: Finnøy also boasts an orchard and a vegetable patch. The entire island is famous for its tomatoes, Otto Hus itself is surrounded by rich countryside.

The artist mercifully ignores the fashions and fads of the art market, preferring to remain stubbornly faithful to his own conception. “I'm guided by the concept of organic growth, which implies a certain degree of humility.”
Kai Teichert's studio is in the same street in which Edvard Munch used to stay during his days in Berlin. Like the latter, he is concerned with broader programmatic issues. And his oeuvre, too, circles around love, jealousy, and death.
Munch exhibited six paintings in Berlin, grouping them under the heading Study for a Series: Love, which were conceived as a prequel to his famous Frieze of Life, not a frieze in the conventional sense, but an ongoing project comprising variably interchangeable individual works, something Kai Teichert also offers us.

Kai Teichert follows a similar iconographic vein with Munch. The Norwegian, too, was concerned with Adam-and-Eve and Tree-of-Life themes; motifs that came to Teichert early in his artistic progression. The visual programme he has devised for Stavanger is derived from Genesis, reflects on the Tree of Knowledge and carries the dendrifically metaphoric title Daphne - Trees and Tenderness.

Text: Dorothee Baer-Bogenschütz, Wiesbaden, Mai 2014
Translation: Jörg von Stein, Berlin, 2014