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It’s easy to like the work of German-born artist Anselm Reyle… just like it’s easy to like caramel-coated chocolate bars, hot fudge sundaes with extra nuts, and those Ho Hos they sell at your local bodega that have probably been there for a couple years. It’s that sugary easy sell—one that you usually pay for later, if only in sheer guilt.
Reyle—whose work is very much literal eye candy, bright and shiny surfaces that don’t need to beg for your attention—has often been derided as kitsch. Some art snobs want you to really work for a piece, to earn your stripes by staring at a flat piece of post-Apocalyptic gray canvas until you tap into some total understanding of the universe. And while Reyle’s work doesn’t require that you slave away to create a connection to a piece, the work itself is by no means empty or lacking in intellectual nutrition, the artistic equivalent of that Ho Ho you swallowed whole last night.
Perhaps one of Reyle’s most recognizable works come from his “foil paintings” series—abstract pieces that essentially look like the aftermath of a birthday party trapped in Plexiglass, bright foil artfully manipulated into rigid and shiny swaths of color. The result is almost a tease—creating something that begs to be scrunched, handled, rolled up in a ball—and keeping it permanently out of reach. This utilization of everyday materials and implementation in a wholly different context makes up the bulk of Reyle’s work, in which he asks the viewer to shake up their rote and routine perception of the world.
Buried beneath the neon and shine lives a deeper discussion, touching on the definitions of “high art” and “low culture” and our perception of such. So next time you’re standing in front of a Reyle and find yourself liking that sucker, remember: There’s no need to feel guilty about it.
Still should probably give up those Ho Hos, though.
Photos courtesy of Contemporary Art Daily.