The PythonGallery in Erlenbach (Zürich) is presenting a comprehensive show of plastic works and installations by the trendy German artist, Wolfgang Stiller from March 8 to April 20, 2013. Python is showing Stiller’s series of Matchstick Men for the first time in Switzerland in an exhibition provocatively entitled ‘Burnout’.
He is stubborn and provocative, but extremely informed: the artist from Berlin, (b. 1961), has marked a particular position in the aesthetic discourse of the time through his plastic works and installations. The everyday life is processed, reshaped and reinterpreted, and so result in completely new ways of spiritually and aesthetically penetrating the world.
Burnt Match in Large Format
In his well-known installation, ‘Matchstick Men’, is seen both burnt and unlit matches in large format (from 0.70 to 2.30 meters long). The special feature: they all have human faces, and are modeled from existing people and the quasi burnout in today’s society. The works can cause mixed feelings in the viewer. ‘Wolfgang Stiller’s sculptures are, at the same time, social criticism and fascination’ says gallery owner Nicole Python, who is proud to show Stiller’s works for the first time in Switzerland. She recently presented a few of the sculptures at Art 12 in Zürich, where they met with a great response. ‘Stiller wants to stimulate thought in the viewer, what defies the general trend in contemporary art, no longer trying to position and therefore be interchangeable to virtually any size’, says Python.
As a visitor, one might believe at first glance that it is a normally dimensional matchstick. However, Wolfgang Stiller’s installations are very humanized matchsticks. The artist has taken the concept matchstick heads literally. At each match end, there is a very charred looking human head with Chinese characteristics. Stiller precisely shaped the heads down to the finest nuances during his two-year visiting professorship at New York University in Shanghai (2007-2009). The eyes are all closed, and in their serenity the faces have something of a death mask. And, actually the type of casting is similar, except that the plaster bandage was replaced here by a thin layer of silicone.
The Matchstick Men are arranged in different ways, sometimes freestanding, some stretching out on the floor with orange fabric on the wall, or in an oversized matchbox, which seems like a coffin. In addition to the humorous and ironic undertones of the really simple but bizarre idea of giving a match a human head, is also the associated social criticism in Stiller’s work clear. People burn out or are burned, a highly topical social issue.
In addition to the oversized works in the retrospective ‘Burnout’, showing from March 8 to April 20, 2013 in the PythonGallery in Erlenbach (Zürich), is also an exhibit of stunning mystical Jellyfish drawings (Blackboard paint with chalk). Stiller surprises once more, as a passionate diver.