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Pawel Althamer

Press release

Pawel Althamer – Unerwartet

neugerriemschneider is pleased to announce Pawel Althamer’s sixth solo exhibition at the gallery.

For Unerwartet, Althamer transforms the gallery’s space into a site-specific installation depicting the aftermath of an unexpected event. Like a window into an unfamiliar world, the installation’s life-size wooden sculptures of female figures, wall drawings, time-worn furniture and an arsenal of woodworking tools are situated atop an expanse of vibrant red carpet that lends the space a scarlet-tinged ambiance. With this staged reality, Althamer probes notions of perception, inviting us to contemplate the temporal nature of life and the potential for transformation.

Pawel Althamer’s large-scale installation acts as still life and serves as a point of entry to the unknown, an extraordinary ecosystem that draws upon a wealth of sociocultural references derived from the artist’s environment and his engagement with global and local communities. The figures in Unerwartet employ a multitude of sources and are the results of fusing classical sculpture and indigenous art. The carved sculptures call to mind caryatids—statues of goddesses that serve as columns of Greek temples—or totem poles inspired by Althamer’s collaboration with Mali’s Dogon population and their woodcarvings. In these works, Althamer associates the use of wood with craft, the natural world and eventual decay, while he deploys red and gold-colored accents to conjure associations with divinity and spiritual wealth.

Exploring the process of creation in all stages, the sculptures—some of which are covered in black, red or white paint, while others appear raw and unfinished—are surrounded by traditional woodworking tools and could be taken as the detritus of projects abandoned in the midst of frenzied work. Lending the space its theatrical appearance, the vividly colored, clearly used red carpet and the seemingly haphazard placement of the staged elements all seem to point to once-animated life put on hold.

Unerwartet expands on the participatory project that Althamer initiated for his solo exhibition Cosmic Order at the Lentos Art Museum in Linz (February 7 - May 17, 2020). In the weeks following the exhibition’s close, Althamer, in collaboration with other woodworkers, continued to refine the sculptures that were on view in Linz, giving thought to what the world may look like in the immediate future. Unerwartet, features sculptures created, altered and refined in a collaborative process that took place across Linz, Warsaw and Berlin, and is a continuation of his longstanding engagement with collective, community-based production.

Pawel Althamer (b. 1967) works in sculpture, collaborative projects, installation and performance art. Interested in social and artistic transformation, Althamer creates work that reimagines reality in an attempt to subtly shift conventional perceptions of social, political and psychological spheres. Althamer’s solo exhibitions include the Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz (2020); Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki (2019); New Museum, New York (2014); Goetz Collection, Munich (2012); Museion, Bolzano (2012); Secession, Vienna (2009); Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2007), and Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2006). Group exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (2013); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2010); Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007); Berlin Biennial (2006), the Istanbul Biennial (2005), and Documenta, Kassel (1997). In 2004 he was the recipient of the Vincent Award, hosted by the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands. Althamer lives and works in Warsaw.

For further press information and imagery, please contact Alexia Timmermans at neugerriemschneider: +49 30 288 77277 or