The current show at Galerie Droste is the end of an eventful year for Christoph Häßler, known as Stohead, on which he can look back upon solo exhibitions in Berlin and Paris as well as the participation in the collaborative art project The House; painting the body of a McLaren 675LT was only one of many side projects. It is not Stohead’s first visit to Wuppertal. In 2007 already, he was part of the group exhibition still on and non the wiser at the Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle. Since then, his artistic progress advanced a great deal even if certain elements still appear to be characteristic for his style. This is exactly the point in the show roots and reality, which is no premature retrospective, but an insight in his stylistic stock from which consistently evolves something new. It is a snapshot of his work so far applied to the spirit of time.
Since Stohead, born 1973 in Schwäbisch Hall, discovered a tag in the age of 14 his fascination for graffiti is unabated. Without having ascribed great importance to the legibility of this writing he was inspired by the swing and movement expressed in it. Accordingly, his first conceptions consisted rather of circles than letters. Stohead extracts the content of his artistically designed writings mostly from lyrics he grew up with. Thus, he supplemented the most original form of graffiti, the tag, with catchphrases and lines from songs and weaved them in the rhythm of densely crowded letter strings into each other. Led by a steady hand the colours follow a dynamic choreography; coincidence exists only in the trickles of dripping paint emanating from the soaking wet painting tools. Building on his existing stylistic vocabulary he develops not only his own fonts, but also tools to transfer them as efficient as possible onto diverse surfaces.
The series Liquid Smoke, for instance, covers the former order in wafts of mist until the writing, still germ cell of his works, seems to evaporate or materialize out of the haze. While here the structure of the writing seems to dissolve in general, within the font Northern Cholo every single letter winds up into dynamic branching. Contrary to the decomposition on the macro or micro level Stohead takes on a reverse approach in his Recompositions and restores the writing to simple basic forms, technical movements, which are rendered in the utmost clarity.
roots and reality offers a panopticon of Stohead’s artistic diversity, which shows no chronological enumeration of single developmental stages, but a dynamic fusion of his styles and the progression of them, which can only give a temporal total impression.