Union Pacific, London
Conceptualist, Jan Kiefer appropriates motifs of capital in an effort to dismantle what makes a middle-class European identity. Working with sculpture, paintings, videos and found objects, the work is strongly informed by symbolism and the creation of meaning. Depicted in his grape paintings for ART O RAMA, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, are two bunches of juicy grapes: in one a white bunch and in the other, black grapes. This dualism is representative of the logic values that shape our European thinking, whilst the grape itself is the object of choice to represent wealth and lush in the history of European Painting.
Spawning from the depictions of grapes by Greek painter Zeuxis that were said to be “so realistic that birds descended upon the surface to peck at the fruit”, to representations of Bacchus by the Baroque painter Caravaggio – the grape belongs to myths of every European period. Nonetheless, the industry of winemaking is one of Europeans oldest cultural heritages and source of economic value. Furthermore, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir are another reiteration of the mass production of still-life paintings, however ironically, often found at a middle-class dining establishment. These objects belong to a niche European culture keen to prove itself worthy of refinement and authenticity. Kiefer’s work leads us to question the origins of European thinking and the West, taking us straight to question the cult of the object and its commodification.
Jan Kiefer (b.1979 in Trier, Germany) lives and works in Basel, where he completed his master’s degree in Fine Arts at the Academy of Arts and Design in Basel in 2012. Since he has exhibited widely, in Switzerland and internationally, including at Museum Haus Konstruktiv Zürich (CH), Nagel Draxler, Cologne (D), Glasgow international, Scotland (UK); Kai Matsumiya, New York (US); Kunstverein SALTS, Basel (CH); Union Pacific London (UK); Sculpture Park Cologne (D); White Columns (NY); Kunsthalle Basel (CH); Kunsthaus Baselland (CH); Kunstverein Wiesen (D); Kunsthalle Athena (GR); Kunsthalle Exnergasse Vienna (AUT); Gagosian Gallery (GR).
Kiefer is currently a lecturer at the Art Academy in Basel (CH). In 2016 he received the Swiss Art Award. He will be an Artist in Residence at the Swiss Institute New York (US) in 2019.