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Reading Rämistrasse #83: Leila Peacock on Nach dem Winter taut der Schnee from Hrüze Gegi - Akademie - Kunsthalle Zürich

Reading Rämistrasse #83: Leila Peacock on Nach dem Winter taut der Schnee from Hrüze Gegi

It's not often that you are welcomed into an exhibition with the smell of grilled meat. It’s an archaic, charred cave-dwelling smell. A smell you can taste.

This is the latest show by the group Hrüze Gegi (Bene Andrist, Jürgen Baumann and Nicola Genovese), whose byline states that they mount ‘exhibitions in various locations’ throughout Winterthur. Reluctant to call themselves curators, their exhibitions are DIY in the punkest sense: not DIY because they are in any way makeshift, but DIY because they will unbuild your expectations of what an exhibition is. The last one involved a walk down an underground river in near pitch darkness, with works installed en route. Visitors were required to physically climb in and out of the show.

This time their exhibition brings us to a kebab shop right next to Grüze station. The use of this location is not a Berlin-style in-joke, exploiting the irony of trashy aesthetics; this exhibition is in the industrial heartland of Winterthur, in a city which, despite its proximity to Zürich, lacks its thriving culture of off-spaces and the associated art crowd to animate them. Here it's about finding new spaces and honouring new possibilities, which in this show means the art has to find a place amongst the the vernacular design choices of a self-built restaurant, which includes a rack of pool cues but no pool table. Kebab shops like this are always strange portals, they are islands of hybrid culture, neither here nor there. The back room is an immigrant’s homage to a Swiss alpine hut with its wooden interior and benches that give it a weird folkloric feel. This proves a perfect setting for the works themselves which could be loosely collected under the term freak-folk.

Bene Andrist, Piss in my Ear and Tell Me its Raining (2022)

Bene Andrist’s large plaster relief Piss in my Ear and Tell me it’s Raining (2022) looks like a slice of a giant’s microbiome. A gut-like glut of parasites and orifices and human remains, lovingly glazed as if it were a prized pot. On the other side of the entrance you have to look closely for Jürgen’s Baumann’s The Hurrier I Go the Behinder I Get (2022), tucked in next to the coats, an unsettling parody of bünzli ornamentation; what looks like a vertebra from the spine of some monstrous creature frames a finely detailed, yet nightmarish drawing of a grim-faced goblin. Elin Gonzalez’s Meister des Ei’s: Final Heaven (2022) is also an exquisitely realised graphite drawing of what could best be described as some kind of alien egg; both works recall a generation who fed themselves on ‘90s fantasy and rave flyers. All of the works have a grotesque quality mixed with a baroque ornamentation. Orson Egloff’s painting A Somber Embrace (2021) echoes this but in abstract form, a pearlescent rhapsody of connective tissue.

On the opposite wall are two more textural works. A ceramic piece by June Fisher, 24/7 Drama (2022) is split into four tiles, a soft green filigree frames a skin-crawling surrealist vista of earwigs swarming over synapses. It has to be said that a lot of these works are disturbing in a distinctly unappetising way, so perhaps eat your döner first. Isabell Bullerschen shows Hyperion (2021) one result of her ongoing entropic experiments with UV degradable paper, the distorted surface contrasting here with the mass-market pine slats.

Aronne Pleuteri, Festa con le rane (2021); Max Earnest, I Yield to NONE (2022); Orson Egloff, A Somber Embrace (2021)

Across the back wall hangs Aronne Pluteri’s seductive pseudo-Seurat mish-mash of entangled limbs frolicking in the water, titled Festa con le rane (Party with the Frogs, 2021) and Nicola Genovese’s Achille’s Heel II (2022), cast in snake-proof aluminium. With a cartoon grimace the disembodied leg literally laughs off its hero’s tragic fate: chew on this suckers. In contrast to this comic bravado, Max Earnest’s creepy figurine I Yield to NONE (2022) surveys the scene from a top corner, a zombie-medusa, mouth bloodied with its latest victim.

It these works were mounted in a standard white cube they would lose some of their writhing, oozing, possessed quality that is augmented by this friendly yet, to be honest, demented interior. They become untethered and unstable things in this maelstrom. This mixture is an artwork in itself.

It feels like there should be a new term to frame the aesthetics of this show beyond freak-folk. Perhaps alien-romantic, sci-fi/fantasy-figurative or even kebab-core.

Nach dem Winter taut der Schnee, from Hrüze Gegi with Isabell Bullerschen, Max Earnest, Jürgen Baumann, Aronne Pleuteri, Bene Andrist, June Fischer, Nicola Genovese, Orson Egloff, Elin Gonzalez, 10 March–10 April 2022, Bahnhof Takeaway, St. Gallerstrasse 145, Winterthur

Reading Rämistrasse

Geht der Raum für Kunstkritik verloren, müssen wir handeln. Deswegen schaffen wir diesen Ort für Kritik – Reading Rämistrasse – auf der Webseite der Kunsthalle Zürich und veröffentlichen Rezensionen zu aktuellen Ausstellungen in Zürich. Diese geben nicht die Meinung der Kunsthalle Zürich wieder, denn Kritik muss unabhängig sein.

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