Stefan Kürten’s paintings explore the complexities of our universal yearning for the ideal place to call home. His source material includes appropriated images from architecture and design magazines as well as photographs he has taken during his global travels. These become starting points for carefully constructed scenes whose idyllic environments belie their illusory promise of ultimate happiness.
The seductive fantasy of the good life takes a variety of forms. Mid-century-style homes in meticulously landscaped surroundings are adorned with iconic modern art and design objects. Charming cottages in bucolic environs suggest an escape to a simpler life. Swimming pools and palm trees evoke a relaxed lifestyle of golf-filled days and warm, cocktail-soaked nights. A soft, golden glow suffuses these settings (an effect achieved through metallic gold pigment in the foundational layers of the paintings), adding to their sense of harmony and richness.
There is a deceptive familiarity to Kürten’s depictions. They may seem at first like enviable places, but they become unsettling upon closer examination. Misshapen trees, apocalyptic skies, and precarious hillsides suggest a subtly sinister force at play. Dead grass and traces of graffiti conjure abandonment and decay. Rorschach-like reflections within the compositions signal a dizzying hallucination. Such unexpected disturbances expose darker truths underlying the emblems of Western prosperity.
Hosfelt Gallery has represented Stefan Kürten since its founding in 1996. Kürten is a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where, as a young man, he studied with Michael Buthe. Kürten is also an alumnus of the San Francisco Art Institute. His solo museum exhibitions the Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany; Künstlerverein Malkasten, Düsseldorf; Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany; Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; and Museum im Kulturspeicher, Würzburg, Germany. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); as well as many others. He lives with his wife and daughter in Düsseldorf.