Following his first exhibitions in the mid seventies, Ernst Caramelle has persistently developed an œuvre of diverse media, such as drawing, photography, video, painting, and wall painting, which has long since brought him widespread international acclaim. His conceptually founded work examines the dichotomies of the original and the fake, production and reproduction, the perception of art and the contexts of art reception. In the interplay between reciprocal references and replicas there is no value judgment and no systematic order. Publications by Caramelle, e.g. “11 Originalreproduktionen von Originalkunstwerken” (Original Reproductions of Original Works) (1978) or “Forty Found Fakes” (1979), are works that have specifically addressed the problem of authenticity and signature early on. Last year’s exhibition at the Museu Serralves in Porto, “all printed matters 1974 – 2004”, which is currently being shown at the Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, is perhaps the most focused “retrospective” to date. The purchase of all Caramelle’s printed material by the Fundacao de Serralves last year is the most logically consistent acquisition of his œuvre by a museum to date.
For Ernst Caramelle, the context of an exhibition is also one of the extant space, of the architecture. His painting – whether on a gesso ground, wood, cardboard, or directly applied to the wall – is spatial depiction refracted by perspective. Colored, to some extent washed-out rectangular shapes make formal reference to spatial elements, to architectural found footage. Like a gesso piece, the wall itself becomes the painting, the perspective “views” become “physiognomies.” Looking turns to being looked at; the visible reveals itself as a question mark.
The questioning of reality, of the reliability of the visible, as well as of the conditions of art is a subject that Ernst Caramelle elaborates continuously in his drawings, the intimate and subtle underpinnings of his work. They are not fleeting sketches – Caramelle refuses to accept the fast pace of the art business and insists in principle on slow processes; rather, they are the poetic outcome of continuous examination and well thought-out cross references, often in the form of collages and furnished with hand- or typewritten comments.
Ernst Caramelle is a rare guest in Vienna. In addition to his striking exhibitions at the Secession (1993) and the Bawag Foundation (2001), the Generali Foundation paid tribute to Ernst Caramelle’s importance as a pioneer of media art in its group exhibition “Replay” (2000). In our exhibition, Ernst Caramelle will be presenting gesso works, “Sun pieces” and drawings from the past four years, space-specific wall paintings, as well as a video projection in the exhibition space LOGIN.