Sunday, April 04, 2010


Thomas Zipp (born in Heppenheim in 1966) is one of the most important German artists of our time. Trained as a painter, he brings together individual works – paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and installations – to create an overall concept that completely integrates the spaces of the exhibition venue. By working in this way, Zipp lends his exhibition concepts a unique, unrepeatable existence.
Zipp’s works are marked by an intense engagement with history, science and religion, with politics and society and with art history and philosophy. A central role in this is played by the exploration the self, by antagonism in the sense of diametrically opposed antitheses and by the consequences of historical, scientific and religious successes and events. Good and evil, truth and lie, God and the devil, standard and deviation, body and mind, obsession, ecstasy, borderline experience, blessedness and sexuality provide Zipp with thematic inspiration.
The following quote by Thomas Zipp is taking a firm stand regarding these topics and shows a critical position: ‘1. In view of the existence of indifference and conformist, limited, ecstatic conditions, today, resistance to untruth will no longer interest anyone anymore. 2. The maze of reactionary, heliocentric tendencies, be these pseudo-progressive or stagnative, is governed by lethargy; indeed, lethargy must dominate as it is characterising feature and privilege of one’s contemporaries. 3. The impotence of the lethargy of the scientifising emphasis in all bourgeois actions banishes euphoria to the grey, macabre, and static, to protestant stiffness and pessimism, to the neutral or the soft irresolute – or even to false excesses which are, however, strictly channelled’ (Thomas Zipp in: Achtung! Vision: Samoa & The Family of Pills, 2005)

Thomas Zipp is one of those artists who are able to go beyond simply presenting a solo show at an exhibition venue like the Kunsthalle Fridericianum and instead transform it in its entirety. Under the title (WHITE REFORMATION CO-OP) MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO, Zipp is dedicating his show in Kassel to the question of standard and deviation, social exclusion and the exploration of the self, by turning the spaces of the Kunsthalle Fridericianum into a ‘psychiatric hospital’ depicted with a gloomy aesthetic and satirical exaggeration.With his subtitle MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO, Zipp is alluding to a famous quotation from the Roman poet Juvenal (ca. 60–140 AD), who as a satirist sharply criticised the signs of his time. This idea of bringing together mind, health, and body, which once adorned many buildings and coats-of-arms, equates, in a discrediting way, a healthy body with a healthy mind and was employed frequently over the course of ‘nationalist popular education’ and the creation and evolution of ‘internment homes’, ‘reformatories’ and ‘psychiatric homes’ since the late seventeenth century. Against this backdrop, the Kunsthalle Fridericianum will undergo a complete transformation. Thomas Zipp is replacing the large inscription on its portal with the title of the exhibition, and the foyer will be turned into the lobby of an ‘institution.’ In the spacious main wings of the Fridericianum, the artist is combining powerful installation interventions with a large selection of his sculptural and painted oeuvre. By lowering the overall lighting and employing garish neon lights, Zipp creates the illusion of long, winding corridors whose doors lead to accessible and inaccessible rooms, in which the themes of the exhibition are taken up again and again in paintings and sculptures, such as his Psychonauten (Psychonauts). These corridors connect to the side wings, which house the large installations of a cell, a gymnasium, and a hall of mirrors with concave and convex forms that distort their mirror images.

13 March till 13 june 2010


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