‘You see, what you see’
Astrid Köhler could have been a marvellous art forger also. Her technical competence, as well as the capability to capture different genres, themes, styles and making them her own is obvious to the less professional observer even at first glance. Her pictures are painted in such a perfect manner, that nobody would ever come up with the idea
to get a child to copy her work like a painting by Picasso.
However, Astrid Köhler is not content with simple reproduction – neither with deceptively real imitations of works of art nor with the most realistic representation of drapery or the heads of matches, baby animal fur or plumage. Instead, persons portrayed by her wear paper bag hats, the fruit in her still life wear bandages – and from time to time, she also chooses ironic titles for her work. Such a break with artistic tradition because of a subject, the subversion of a beautiful depiction, perfectly executed to the last detail, through an incongruent, resistive element, and the combination of maximum virtuosity and shoddy objects can be found in many of her works – for instance, in the wrinkled handkerchiefs on old paper or wallpaper, which equally remind one of mannerism or … a flat iron.
This restoration of art to everyday life, the repatriation of la objet trouvé back into the daily routine of the kitchen presumably is one reason for the accessibility of her pictures and – with all respect for the virtuosity – makes them so very much likeable. They are instantly appealing and one can imagine them in one’s own living room as well as on display in a grand museum or art gallery. However, her work is anything but merely cute and innocuous. It is always full of tension, ranging from vague ambiguity to candid surrealism. Thus, something violent adheres to the graffiti bar in the Crossed-out group of works; the energetically sprayed red drops over delicate and pretty birds could provoke thoughts of blood as well. Nevertheless you have good reason for being just enraptured by Astrid Köhler’s paintings. Albeit you won’t get disappointed if you are looking for more than exceptional skill and pictorial intelligence.
Translation: Carola Strohoff