Three to one!
Albrecht Wild can fire an audience with enthusiasm! His Beermat installations make us reminiscent. Memories are awakened of a litre glass of beer at the Munich "Oktoberfest", a plain straight glass of "Kölsch" in a smokey pub near the cathedral in Cologne, the cool pale lager in Kreuzberg Berlin or a weird bar at the main station in Frankfurt. However, this is not about going into raptures about German Beer culture. These particular beermats belong in a museum and not on the bar of your local.
Beermats are Albrecht Wild's raw material. Their form is simple, their content unpretentious, a rather nondescript product, unassuming, an innocent advertising medium, maybe even a little bit old fashioned, almost bourgeois. There's nothing to fear from this material. Albrecht Wild, born 1959, is familiar with art history and is, as a contemporary artist, as sceptical of inspiration as he is of the conventional tools of the trade. For art to be relevant to life, it must draw on life itself. That's why the artist is a collector, he sifts through the stock of our daily experience, combs our common pictoral memory and brings together the instantly recognisable. The working process is no mystery, either. Wild uses a ruler, Stanley knife and gumstrip. His concept is straightforward, with a little patience the principle of division can be worked out, the original lettering deciphered and the graphics of the three original identical beermats recognized. The artist is unemotional, he works in our midst and even encourages us to participate.
It is in the very simplicity of the technique and the clarity of the central idea that the appeal of the beermat installation lies. It is amazing how these little mats can produce so many diverse forms, symmetrical shapes and complicated patterns when each of the three mats is cut and the pieces put together in a new form.
Whilst the new outline joins up smoothly the linguistic sense becomes jumbled. The syllables leap and tumble in absurd word collages, resisting the natural rhythm of the sentence and regrouping to form Dadaist word puzzling.
Albrecht Wild spreads his maquettes playfully all over the wall. Collectively they take on a life of their own, invade the exhibition space and emphasise its structure. One wouldn't have thought the beermats could be so powerful! They begin to shift, constantly regroup, seeming to float free and break away from the wall. Can these really still be beermats? The raw material from the very heart of a favourite German pastime has undergone a radical change, our familiar friends have moved into the realms of fantasy.
Albrecht Wild's work is communicative. Those who have seen his work become eager to join in. The circle of collectors who do not raise a glass to their lips without thinking of Albrecht's beermat installations is constantly widening, whether in Istanbul, Rome, Paris, London or New York.
What I find fascinating about Albrecht Wild's work is the interplay between discipline and playfulness. He persues a clear concept, the principles of the series are clear yet at the same time he remains open to the special atmosphere of the exhibition venue. The beermat installations become one with the surrounding room and interpret it. The resulting integration wins over the spectator and tempts him to join in the game and it is in this invitation to an enthusiastic dialogue that the particular quality of the beermats lies.
Dr. Sabine Schulze
Director, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany