100 x 100 x 13,8 cm
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021
Photo: Gerhard Sauer
Thomas Rentmeister’s Eisenschokolade [Iron Chocolate] seduces us through the massive materiality of its cast iron, the rigour of its geometry, and its direct spatial relationship to the viewer with whom it shares its terrain. Thanks to its serial division into four by four cuboid elevations, the no more than ankle-high sculpture presents the same view from each side; its plain and simple form totally excludes any hint of pathos and any hierarchical reading. Which means that the intrinsic properties of cast iron are given far more emphasis in this elementary configuration: viewed as a whole, the work seems heavy, hard and cold – and yet an oxidised surface envelops the compact material in a warm, velvety coat of rust red. Thus the aesthetic effect conveyed by the Eisenschokolade is not merely determined by its solid presence, but also by a scintillatingly coloured patina that is sensitive to the touch – the outcome of corrosion that gives the rigid shape a changing appearance.
The Eisenschokolade shares the specific aesthetics of iron sculpture, the regular structure and the monochromy that distinguish the grid-shaped floor pieces by Carl Andre. But this depiction of a bar of chocolate is not simply an ironic swipe at the central topos of Minimal Art, the refusal to convey any meaning, but is a decisive part of the work concept that Rentmeister employs so as to stir up a whole host of associations. Here in Eisenschokolade Rentmeister’s sculptural sensibility for shapes and materials is wedded to a tangible context and above all to social aspects: mass produced comestibles and luxury foods are a recurring theme in his artistic output, in which since his earliest works in the mid-1980s he has regularly transformed coffee, sugar, potato chips or nut cream nougat into three-dimensional installations, sculptures and pictures. Other than in these works, in which food itself is employed as a sculptural material, often in significant quantities, Eisenschokolade is concerned with the defamiliarised, overdimensional representation of a bar of Ritter Sport chocolate in its typical square shape.
Physical reference and abstraction, form and motif unite here to create a whole whose sight brings the contradictory fields of reference of chocolate and iron to mind, while oscillating between soft and hard, sweet and metallic, small and handy, massive and weighty.
1964 born in Reken
Lives and works in Berlin