The wonder of reality

All of Matthias Kostner's art expresses a particular predisposition for realism, manifested through the meticulous reproduction of the human figure. His characters, which are very everyday, do not show any particular strangeness: they wear ordinary clothes, express simple attitudes and apparently move in recognisable contexts. And yet, despite this semblance of normality, something eludes total comprehension. These are sometimes imperceptible elements, small expressions, unusual behaviour or ambiguous situations, but in certain cases, these ‘metamorphoses' become more evident, involving the bodies with a decisive mutative action. It almost seems as if nature wants to take them back, to incorporate them once again into its own ‘womb': a nature that appears, at times, as vegetation; in other cases, however, as lava rock, as if wanting to express a sort of mysterious union between the flow of blood and the flow of incandescent magma. In this way Matthias Kostner moves away from the temptation to take pleasure in simple technical skill, attempting a parallel communicative path, but without denying his profound love for the representation of reality. On the contrary, in his work, everyday reality seems to be charged with surprise, as if to underline how every day we live on Earth has, after all, something extraordinary about it. Life, he seems to say, is already a miracle and there is nothing more extraordinary than reality itself. With this reading, we begin to see in Matthias' work certain elements that take us back to the great period of Metaphysics and Magic Realism, when artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Felice Casorati, Antonio Donghi, Filippo De Pisis and many others began to depict everyday life by placing their characters in familiar settings, but with suspended and alienating atmospheres. These were the same years in which Surrealism was born in Paris, but unlike their transalpine ‘cousins', the Italian artists remained anchored to a clearly evident classicism; their figures did not have strange connotations, but rather it was their condition that aroused ‘suspicion', their unnatural fixedness, the twilight sensation, the surrounding silence by which they seemed pervaded. Conditions of obvious departure from normality, yet rendered according to the rules of the most traditional figuration. About a century later, those characteristics seem to be present in Matthias' work today, although the characters have inevitably changed: his characters wear contemporary clothes, their hairstyles follow current trends, even their attitudes express the nonchalance typical of our times. In short, they are characters close to us, but their lives – regardless of being sculptures – seem to take place in a parallel context. Their gazes, their actions, everything is part of a unique and unrepeatable experience, inserted in a world that we humans cannot access. But we can look at them, reflect ourselves in them, take part indirectly in their happiness, in the wonder of holding a gecko on the back of our hand, balancing on a beehive without fear of being stung, sleeping suspended from the ground as if gravity were no limit. Matthias Kostner's realism is, therefore, a message rather than a simple depiction of reality. It is an attempt to reflect on ourselves by communicating the beauty of normality, bearing in mind that nothing that exists can be taken for granted and that the deepest message of art lies in the hidden part, that the extraordinary resides in the ordinary and that reality, in the end, also contains its exact opposite.

Andrea Baffoni