Oleg Frolov & Tobias Kaspar "Epicentre", 4 November 2018 – 12 January 2019
Oleg Frolov’s and Tobias Kaspar’s duo show “Epicentre” at Temnikova & Kasela uses an image of the planet Earth by night as visual promotion. The night view reveals only the outlines of continents and spots of light pollution, effectively presenting the viewer with a map of human centres and epicentres. The show deals with the artists’ discomfort with the polarised world and the cities they live in, Frolov and Kaspar approaching these frustrations from two different points on the map.
Oleg Frolov is showing two interior monuments, “Fountain of fantasy, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” and “Fountain of peace, prosperity, pedocracy and meritocracy”. The two fountains parody opposing political positions as a satirical or propagandistic cliché, and exemplify a polarised psychology that swings from reckless optimism to cynical pessimism. Incorporating references to the electronic band Kraftwerk, current political debate and lifestyle objects designed to encourage emotional response, Frolov addresses the cognitive processes underlying the foundation of a relationship between individual creativity and mass consciousness.
He will also show a wall work entitled “Solaris(Planet of Visions)”. In Frolov’s recent practice the art objects got more comic and eccentric. They are mainly concerned with the promises and flaws of the optimistic rhetoric of achievement and creativity, which effectively follows the current economy of communication, while simultaneously masking automatism, intellectual laziness and lack of will. His sculptural practice involves unspecific modes of production, such as presentations of ready- bought items and outsourcing of manual labor.
Tobias Kaspar is showing two series, “Japan Collection” and “Heroin Paintings”. The former is a series of framed close-up photographs of embroideries produced by a Swiss company known for supplying fabrics to haute couture houses. Examples photographed here depict what appears to be European bourgeois life, and were successfully targeted to the Japanese market which in the 1960s became open to Western consumer goods. The works present a sort of broken mirror of how a society presents itself and how one wants to be seen.
Kaspar’s second series, a suite of heroin paintings, includes photos of the 1990s open drug scene in Zurich, which was then one of the biggest in Europe. During the early ‘90s it was aggressively attacked by police and government forces until the introduction of what was at the time one of the most progressive drug policies. Though the practice of handing out sterile needles, doctoral surveillance and shelters for drug consumption ended the extreme marginalisation of heroin users, the policy came short of actual decriminalisation of drug use and legalisation of drugs. The found newspaper images are inkjet printed and glued to primed linen canvases using wallpaper glue and a large brush, as well as treated with glitter for decor and diffusion.
Works from both series are also currently on view at Kunsthalle Bern’s “Independence” exhibition, which is promoted and communicated by the institution without using the artist’s name. Questions around authorship, its refusal or over-declaration (Tobias Kaspar has an eponymous jeans line, for example) is a recurring topic in his practice, which understands an artist as one of contemporary society’s most problematic figures.