Thank you Peter, for passing me the hint to Stefan Marx’s exhibition In Dreams at Ruttkowski 68 gallery in Cologne. It gives me the chance to create a new chapter to my story with Stefan which is a classical one-sided love story.
It goes a little something like this: as I used to work as an almost unpaid assistant to the press office of the Kunstverein in Hamburg back in 2009 Stefan painted the whole stair hall there and I was too shy to say hello although (or because?) I liked what he did. Then I bought his book I Guess I Shouldn’t Be Telling You (or was it given to me as a supplementary payment?) but never removed the yellow foil it is sealed in because it’s just right as it is as an object. Furthermore I enjoyed carrying his GhostTown printed cloth bag (this was a supplementary payment for sure, thanks again, Kunstverein staff) for quite a while, but as I moved to Berlin/Neukölln some years ago I needed to put it away (heavy-hearted) for some time because its service as an identifying code for the grown-up hardcore/indie/punk kids had been somehow swallowed by … new kids. Ahh, yeah, and I once bought a coloring book with Stefan’s drawings for the older one of my two goddaughters but as she is a quite girlish girl she wasn’t as fond as I wanted her to be (I still love her like crazy). Her younger sister, a real badass who once requested a necklace with a small electric guitar as pendant for her birthday present, was quite amused of the book, instead.
So, what is it all about with Stefan? Although I don’t like the reference of some of his figures to Beavis & Butt-head, I still like his other figures like animals, all kind of everyday objects, his sunsets, his patterns and his slogans. Above all I very much like his tone, his way of telling a sad story in a funny way. In Stefan’s art there is no pathos despite the pathos we all share: the one of living in a world and time that feels filthy, lousy, full of holes and wrong but still is amazing enough to not want to quit it all. May our pain be that of broken hearts and dreams, it still is real pain. May our grief be that of feeling small and powerless, it still is a strong feeling. Stefan’s twisted and trembling characters are staggering through his paintings and drawings like some cheeky ghosts having gags in mind. His poetry, offered as catchphrases and punch lines, shows real sadness and a I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude at once.
With all that catchiness it is no wonder that he also collaborates with a music label, so he does all the artwork for Smallville Records that matches perfectly with their cheerful yet not too overexcited sound.
If you are happen to be in Cologne until March 15, swop by at Ruttkowski 68 and Give Some Love to Stefan’s new works. And Stefan, if we are happen to meet again, I will manage to say hello, promise!
Ruttkowski 68, Bismarckstrasse 68, 50672 Köln
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 12am –7pm, Mon closed and by appointment
See Stefan’s webpage here.