It is true: the grass is always greener on the other side. But the question remains: Just what is it, that other side? Where do our odd weeds end and the great grass begin? It’s a universal question that might or might not have driven Zurich’s latest painting talent, Urban Zellweger, in his first institutional solo show, curated by Milan Ther at Kunstverein Nürnberg.
We might believe that it drove the iconic alien figure in Out of this World (2018) to cheerfully ski jump over an alpine landscape of slushy snow (the painterly challenge) incorporating iconic icons (no tautology) such as the VLC media player’s bright orange traffic cone or the MacOS finder’s white-blue schizophrenic profile — fatally scattered like the remains of Ötzi the Iceman, testifying to a nearly prehistoric digital age, men’s clumsy computing plus tech culture’s poor allegories sinking into a future species’ sportive oblivion like fading glaciers. Supernatural, too, is the invasion of organic shapes of actual green grass glue (an instrument in landscape model-making) into the rectangular grid of a painted game board of the fairly analog type (Moves, 2018), rearranging the pawns of the game according to an unknown agenda — unknowable perhaps, as the magic realism in those tender paintings seems to suggest. And yet it’s those interventions from the other side, a quintessentially antagonistic perspective, Darwinist even (as an adjacent pair of horse paintings seems to signify), that are structurally shifting the rules of the game (and turf), as both Ther and Zellweger know. Have a seat on the pretty museum bench and join this journey from game space to abstract space to outer space and back again: one may in this way summarize the invitation, or force field, of this witty selection of fresh painting in the neat gallery space of Kunstverein Nürnberg: a place to keep an eye on, an artist to watch out for, for sure.