Berlin-based artist Stefanie Gutheil's shockingly phantasmagorical paintings incorporate such raw materials as animal skulls, hair, and fur — plus an honest dose of human nature, albeit of the sort we rarely get to see. More than 23 works are on view here in sizes ranging from an intimate 12" x 10" to a monumental 110" x 157" — many sporting ornate, gilded frames embellished by the artist.
Gutheil, 32, first exhibited at Weiss in 2010 with Kopftheater (Theater of the Mind), and later in 2011 in a solo turn that notoriously included faux, painted-foam excrement. This, her third solo with the gallery, finds her compositions more crystallized and raucously colorful, their now-discreet, puppet-like players no less identifiable as "us" for their pared down forms: The clown, The misfit, The fool. Here you'll find vomiting drunks and beheaded, one-eyed ladies; screaming centaurs and leather masked gimps. The scenes are propulsive, yet always approachable. Indeed, they reach out into our physical space with various 3-D elements: domestic pussycats have fur tails that dangle out of the frame; human hair and phalluses project from the mouths of gilded monsters. And one toothy guy's pants are so long, he can't even keep them in the picture.
Are these misfits us? or perhaps our friends on not-such-great days? The artist says she uses and abuses this weird mix of visual metaphors, all the better to convey those special moments "when you feel fucked up and used."
Gutheil was born in 1980 in Ravensburg, Germany and studied at the Universität der Künste, Berline where she received her BFA and MFA. She has a host of impressive collection credits including: the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, Jersey City, NJ; the Taguchi Art Collection, Tokyo; the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS. Gutheil was recently exhibited in a solo show at the Kunstverein Kölnberg, Germany and in a group show at Galleri Arnstedt in Sweden.