Demian Kern

Joy, 2023
Oil on canvas
135 x 135 cm

For the exhibition Collectibles , Demian Kern placed some Swarovski figurines from the “Silver Crystal” collection and a few birthday candle holders on an overhead projector and then meticulously painted the projections of the various objects. What you see now in “Stylish Beauty 2,” for example, is not a cat, nor the image of one, but the image of the projection of an object meant to represent a cat. Kern picked up the collectibles somewhere in his surroundings, looking for things that themselves already have a porous relationship to reality. The industrial design of the dog, cat, and duck, as well as the brightly colored cake decoration, refers not to the actual appearance of animals or flowers, but to similarly artificial artifacts meant to accessorize and somewhat trivialize life. Swarovski profitably serves this longing for a glittering world, behind which, as a side effect, the company’s involvement in National Socialism also fades.

While the translucent material casts dark shadows on the projection surface, the white light breaks up into all spectral colors at the sharply cut edges of the crystals, which are also transferred into the projection and consequently into the images. The translation from object to image represents a clear shift to the figures, which are hardly recognizable because the light from the overhead projector makes them appear as opaque surfaces, giving them a surprisingly graphic appearance. The indeterminate depth of the projector’s light space also appears in the image as an opaque matte gray ground. The silhouettes, which are contoured harder or softer depending on the translucency of the originals, create a peculiar kind of spatiality that is, however, constructed quite differently from the crystalline source material.

The blurring at the edges and the prismatic light reflections further emphasize the difference between the three-dimensional object and the two-dimensional representation, because they delay and irritate perception. They make the viewer:inside stumble over the moment when one believes to recognize a cat, because the identification with the figures is continuously undermined by the structure of the pictorial representation. Instead, a mental movement is set in motion that switches back and forth between representationalism, abstraction, gesture, figure and ground, surface and volume, transparency and opacity, and light and shadow. Demian Kern explores this sequence of pictorial modalities, bringing the relationship of object to the representation of the object into a flow.

This iridescent mobility is in tension with the still, frozen situations that capture the shadows cast by the fleeting arrangements. The static little figures, thrown together in a kind of no man’s land, are animated in reception by the succession of group scene and close-ups. The works, however, connect not only through the supposed narration, but equally through conceptual painterly categories. This is also the aim of the only painting that is several times out of the ordinary in the constellation of the exhibition: a monochrome painting that does not represent a reproduction of anything, but is pure pictorial invention. Here, once again, the painterly is invoked in contrast to the original. The green canvas offers an empty projection surface for imaginary afterimages of the seen forms. It represents a break, but at the same time it confirms the consistent logic of the investigations of the pictorial.

Anette Freudenberger


Demian Kern

lives and works in Vienna.

1990 born in Bietigheim-Bissingen
2011 Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee, Fine Art/Sculpture
2014 Art Center (MFA), Pasadena (USA) Prof. Laura Owens, Bruce Hainley
2019 Diploma at Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee, Prof. Else Gabriel


2023 Collectibles, Galerie Krobath Wien, AT
202119.-6., Schleuse Wien, AT
2020Night night eyes and night night nose and night night toes, good night dear paperboy, Grimmuseum, Berlin DE
2019In The Night, Elektro Gönner, Wien, AT
2017 2. Versuch, meinblau, Berlin DE
2015Hi, how are you, Experimentalsystem, Berlin DE
2014Thank you, 950 S Raymond Ave, Los Angeles USA
2011MASCHINE1, Happening, O Tannenbaum, Berlin DE


2023Golden Hour Handshake, Kunstraum Konrad, Puchberg AT
2022Bar du Bois in Loving Others, K√ľnstlerhaus, Wien AT
2022Groupshow Alienz, Wien AT
2022Capture Captures, Universitätsgalerie der Angewandten Heiligenkreuzerhof, Wien AT
2022Knoppers, Essen DE
2021Haus, Wien AT
2021Floater, Galerie der Stadt Schwaz, AT
2020Among them, Kirchgasse, Steckborn CH
2020You Good?, Salon36, Berlin DE
2019Burnout, Spoiler, Berlin DE
2019Rausch, SEZ, Berlin DE
2019Meta Darlings, No Man’s Art Gallery, Amsterdam NL
20192nd Hand Embarrassment, Oskar-Kokoschka-Platz 2, Wien AT
2018Urlaub, Skulpturinstitut, Wien AT
2018Room Service, plus.dede, Berlin DE
2018Chesky’s Manor, On The Matter of Service, Taylor Macklin, Z√ľrich CH
2018Going through grids, Bar Babette, Berlin DE
2017Hauch, Jahresgabenausstellung, Kunstverein Arnsberg, DE
2016Boring Berlin, Galeria R+, Stettin PL
2016global times painting painting to, Halg Gallery, New York USA
2016Sammlung Simonow, Kunsthalle Bozen, IT
2016No dogs are allowed in the shower, Galleri Snerk, Tromso NOR
2014Schwindel, Salon am Moritzplatz, Berlin DE
2012Gedankenskulptur, Alte Post, Trier DE
2011 You Are Free, Tape Club, Berlin DE