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June 2017, English/German
21×28.2 cm, 144 pages, 84 color ill., softcover
ISBN 978-3-95679-339-4
Martin Schmidl
Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz
Out of print

This catalogue illustrates Stephan Dillemuth’s elaborate solo show at the Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, through installation photographs as well as texts by art historian Kerstin Stakemeier and theorist Helmut Draxler. The exhibition presented newly conceived works alongside works from the 1980s exhibited for the first time. Dillemuth’s paintings, sculptures, video projections, and assemblages are brought together as a theatrical social group. Plaster-cast limbs appear unexpectedly from the ceiling, enmeshed within clock cogs or combined with boars’ heads, cattle ears, and deer feet. Dillemuth’s Bayernbilder (1979) were inspired by sentimental and trivial postcard motifs from Bavarian spa towns. In Schönheitsgalerie (1985), featuring over fifty works, Dillemuth explores questions of representation. His gallery turns against the idea of external beauty and how it is represented in art. The paintings, like the faces, develop a life of their own through the process of painting, which makes it possible to see a new kind of “beauty.” Works that Dillemuth produced in the late 1980s in Chicago, exhibited for the first time, resemble disco decorations, and glitter in the light of a video projection. Is disco a “theater of cruelty”—an ecstatic place where all images, whether ugly or beautiful, mean or seductive, are transcendent?

Addressing the question of the role of the artist in society, Dillemuth challenges the contemporary imperative that artists, as exemplars of individuality, are required to have a distinct authorial identity. Despite a history of working collaboratively and prioritizing artistic research, at the Künstlerhaus Dillemuth exposes himself as a solo artist, reconstructing the history of his work from the margins of group life that has taken shape in the midst of it. Here he reveals the consistency of the farce of his ego, the heroic yet bad-mannered delinquent artist subject. Dillemuth presents his aging body for all to see, playing with the boundaries between inside and outside, institution and alternative, and life and form.