"Monsters have a practical value, they challenge our intellect."
Étienne-Geoffrey de St. Hilaire, from the19th century.
Bakemono are the traditional monsters in japanese culture. The word itself means "changing things" and thus many Bakemono are the result of bizarre transformations. Familiar figures like animals and every-day objects shift into shapes which we encounter with shivering fascination and pleasant uneasiness alike. Astrid Köppe's drawings take us to a place where notions of the Natural and the Supernatural, the Usual and the Fantastic are no longer applicable. By means of her own creative imagination, the artist transforms concrete experiences and studies of the every-day into motifs that seem to be frozen during a process of metamorphosis. In order to read what is seen, the viewer needs to call on his own experiences of reality, however decipherment can only fail. Although one might recognize familiar textures like fur, hair, sting or plush, irritation about the veritable character of Köppe's objects prevails.
The drawn figures ostensibly create the impression to be domesticated by the consistent use of identically sized frames. A closer look, however, soon unmasks this treacherous certitude. Köppe's 'monsters' impress us with a very delicate application of various materials and thus develop such a tactile qualitiy and presence that the viewer is - despite of their quaintness - constantly reminded of their factuality. The wall-pieces pierce into the real space. The relief like structure made of artificial eyelashes is the first installation since the exhibition "100 drawings" in 2011 in South Korea. The eyelashes are individually and in meticulous work appliqued to the wall. They seem to relate to the pencil stroke of a drawing, due to their mere accumulation they also evoke elements of substantial volume. At the same time, the artist takes up "hair" as a subject. Hair as well as monsters place the viewer in an ambiguous position. On one hand, we associate hair with grace or even virility, on the other hand, it is only a small step to utter revulsion if we find them in places where they ought not be, according to our perception, and thus cross a line which the installation piece tries to explore.
On the bigger enamels the objects have a stronger pictogramic character. Outlines are sharper and clearer, and through their strong figurative presence they appear almost as logos even though their message still remains enigmatic. The diversity of the materials used in the drawings are eliminated on the glittering surface of the enamel that reflects the light.
Bakemono is Astrid Köppe's third exhibition with fruehsorge contemporary drawings and the first one in Germany for which the artist creates two installation pieces.