humor ever present

humor ever present
publication: Adelaide Advertiser
writer: Adam Dutkiewicz
date: June 16, 1996
artist: Manne schulze
exhibition: Beyond babylon

Manne Schulze’s sculptures are resplendent in diversity, yet each are clothed in a uniform of postmodern pop-constructivism. His imagery often develops from appropriations of kitsch and pop culture, and is always rendered with a Disneyesque finish. A fine eye for the rococo and baroque informs his pop icon making. In this exhibition, Schulze’s humor is ever present. An intelligence more pointed than Jeff Koons meets Vladimir Tatlin, as his comic-book characters are surrounded by welded, molecular playground constructions formed out of metal garbage bins and plastic buckets.

On the surface, comparisons between Koons and Schulze might be drawn but the all-embracing consumerism and romanticism of the former is corrupted with wicked observation and critical thinking in the latter.

For example, the theme of species extinction is promoted in T-Wreck, a polka-dotty tyrannosaurus’s head mounted as a wall trophy. Similarly, Roocifix, a crucified kangaroo doe with joey, painted in patriotic green and gold, lampoons human violence inflicted upon nature.

In Uh-Oh, a baby Barbar the Elephant is strapped into his stool, his prominent genitals the key to the title and suggestive of a future of out-of-control testosterone. Society’s psychological and physical control of the individual emerges as the central theme, just as the ironic Free as a Bird displays the male and the female of the human species, each with trappings alluding to their cultural programming, in cages suspended from the ceiling. Standing under these playground structures, Clone – Self-portrait as a boy, a doll-image in weight-lifter’s tights, introduces a dimension of self-satire. The artist’s facsimile is located in a universe of ambitious, boyhood fantasies and a state of perpetual naivety; the artist is sited in the postmodern condition, as a child of the televisual and computer age, disconnected from reality and mature human relationships. In his antiseptic and artificial art, Schulze infers that our urban environment and lifestyle is dehumanizing. But above all, his message is that art is play and, despite the serious problems in the modern world, there’s plenty of fun to be had.