Thomas Palme at MARTINETZ

Artist: Thomas Palme

Exhibition title: As a child I believed in Democracy

Venue: MARTINETZ, Cologne, Germany

Date: September 7 – October 28, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and  MARTINETZ, Cologne

For his second solo exhibition at MARTINETZ Thomas Palme compiled a collection of current works under the title As a child I believed in Democracy.

This autobiographical and at the same time contemporary statement is derived from a drawing of a dishevelled, lonely chick who commends himself to the viewer through his pity evoking look. Isolation and existential abandonment – basic dispositions of the artist’s fathomless and seemingly grotesque world – are expressed in the figure’s image-determining position atop a mountain plateau, enduringly reminiscent of a topos from Romanticism.

With Thomas Palme, the animal is always human too. Upon a closer inspection of the chick, the flowing grandfather or hippie beard together with the implied Iroquois hair comb could be read as an amalgam of resistant insignia from the history of post-war youth cultures.

Like a clear sign, a christian monogram is emblazoned onto the forehead of the fowl that only recently stepped into the world, it appears like Cain’s mark not only here, but is imprinted into the artist’s pictorial cosmos of various figurative personnel. Throughout Thomas Palme’s work Christian concepts of salvation and socio-political models merge into a pictorial hauntology in which the lost, unfulfilled ideals of the occident come into existence as marauding hybrids and the undead and -expanded by text – as an absurd bestiary.

The artist illuminates this paradigmatic approach in countless versions. For example, an already aged bird of prey, who is forced to wear lederhosen with their folksy connotations and with the universal yin-yang symbol on the front strap. An ethnic and spiritual search for identity emerges as consolation to overcome the individual’s current fear of social decline and cultural decay – common symptoms of the neoliberal everyday life in former industrial societies.

Tales of Suffering and Indoctrination appears as a slogan in one of the artist’s many self-portraits; Thomas Palme in the form of a perplexed devil who is not so sure against which enemies he should be employing his diabolical energy. At the same time, Tales of Suffering and Indoctrination can be understood as a fundamental motto of the artist’s multi-faceted social portraits that oscillate between pointed realism and wild fantasy (and often contain both).

An existential urgency that switches between humour and despair becomes noticeable. With social-psychological and ego-researching aspects, with a focus on the individual work as well as an excessive immediacy, Thomas Palme takes stock of his current inventory.

-Thomas Groetz

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

Thomas Palme, As a child I believed in Democracy, 2018, exhibition view, MARTINETZ, Cologne

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