Exhibition text by Chris Goennawein
Bouquet at Nucleo
May 2017
Ghent, Belgium

Art and Document

The distinction between a document and work of art. Works of art are products of intellectual creation. Documents are the results from along the way. All works of art are understood as single units from a series. Thus the individual work of art cannot be recognized without the support of the series. Documents are testimonies of the process towards the work of art, which document and further help to evaluate the strength of an idea.

Head and Hand

The handwriting of the artist appears in the process in the form of sketches. These are the first implementation of the idea, which is regarded as the origin of and as the actual work of art. It is not necessary, however, that handwriting be incorporated into the work of art, since the handwriting would betray the artist’s state of mind. The artist’s state of mind, however, should not be the content of art. However this does not mean that it is not a good reason to make art.


Although the representation of the ideas and their execution suggests a logic, the works arise from a mythological idea rather than a universally valid truth. The artist acts here as a mystic, rather than as an analyst. For the artist, art does not serve the purpose (should it serve a purpose at all) of answering questions. Rather, a closer understanding of art arises when one asks more questions than supplies answers.


A rose is beautiful even when I do not see it. As is an artwork art when I do not see it. Art occurs in the viewer, through perception. The viewer's gaze can nevertheless help to complete a work of art. It is completed through its exhibition and the viewer’s engagement with it. Time and place are determined by observation. Only through this moment, does art become spatial.


The engagement with mysticism raises the typical German question, of whether something is right or wrong. Further, the concern with avoiding errors and the fundamental question of a general right to exist are themes not visibly addressed by the work, but which influence its creation and discussion.

Exhibition text by Justin Cavin
No wrap for my candy
Sep 2015
Los Angeles, USA

Chris Goennawein
No wrap for my candy

Goennawein’s work is tied to the concept of the physical and narrative development of the interpretation of images over planes in space and in time. The theoretical and interpretive framing of the formal characteristics of his work is of importance in equal measure to the physical frame through which they are viewed. For this reason, with No wrap for my candy, Goennawein will present a set of unframed acrylic paintings on aluminum panels and a series of drawings. An artists’ publication will accompany these works in the exhibition.  

Visual wordplay is an essential function of his work. Borrowing from the journalistic “iceberg theory” of Ernest Hemingway Goennawein represents the visual language of found items that have not yet been lost. Whereas facts float above water, the symbolic texture of meaning rests below, and it is within this space that Goennawein attempts to tell his truths in their most “pure” form. Exploring the meanings of “structures” in mathematics and art through his use of vectors, his creative process is to identify the characteristics of form more so than the form itself. In other works he is interested in “work that is not involving the immediate experience of ‘real world.’”

Utilizing the same type of acrylic paint as is implemented in traditional mechanical printing methods, Goennawein overlays additional layers of acrylic on their surface by hand, and in doing so he questions the visual and linguistic syntax within the era of digital reproduction. Strong conceptual parallels exist between his work and the visual semantics of “Pictures Generation” artists such as Sarah Charlsworth, and John Baldessari. Or the of Giorgio Agamben’s questioning of the classic Aristotelian logic wherein “the problem becomes that of the interminable search for an ultimate, irreducible element, beyond which it is not possible to proceed.” Linguistically, the works harken to Ferdinand Saussure’s understanding of the process of signification: the sign is the whole that results from the association of the signifier with the signified in its material patterns.

Anchors of the exhibition are Goennaweins’ lacquered acrylic hexagonal polygons. These sculptures mirror irreducible elements and are often found repetitiously in many “architectonic” structures of nature:  the epithelial cells of an eye, honeycombs, or snowflakes. The hexagon represents elements in their most stable, and measurably observable (or countable), form.

Also included in the exhibition are Goennawein’s “Hotel Mayonnaise” stationery drawings. A riff on Baldessari’s “PRIMA FACIE (FIFTH STATE): Mayonnaise, 2006,” the drawings are created in situ (wherever this may be). A nod to the global flow of artistic production (or capital, for that matter), they are also a relic of the absent but real studio space, the displaced locus of artistic production in an ever more globally connected world. Goennawein asks,” What’s not to like about Mayonnaise? It’s rich and comforting, a battery of energy. What fat and felt was to Beuys, is Mayonnaise to me.”

Catalog text by Ana Cvitas and Vanja Zanko
Nov 2015
Rovinj, Croatia

Chris Goennawein
The Examiner of Contemporary Techniques

It seems that we belong to a time that through technological research constantly shifts the boundaries of our possibilities. The concept of our time is commonly linked to science, but imagine this game in art. Once, in the past, such a time was called Renaissance. The Renaissance involved experimenting with techniques and approaches, it encouraged research and multi-functionality, and the intertwining of familiar elements in order to create new dimensions and structures. Today we are witnessing the reign of another such period. Art is not only and exclusively one-dimensional; it offers a range of possibilities. Chris Goennawein approaches this range openly, experimenting with all its possible forms. In his interests Goennawein is a Renaissance man. He analyzes art, introduces new talents who constitute the contemporary scene, writes about them and edits his magazine titled Parabol Art Magazine. Through his work, Goennawein turns from a passive viewer into an active creator of different techniques and media. Although he belongs to the new generation of artists, he presents himself as an author who with equal skill communicates in entirely different materials. He primarily focuses on steel, paper and neon/light, thus showing his knowledge of sculpture (steel), painting techniques (paper), installations, and spatial visual interventions (light). In that way, he creates an integral concept based on the idea that each realization belongs to an individual concept.

Elegant, minimal, subtle, without superfluous elements, are the qualities usually linked to Goennawein’s work. To Be or (K)not to Be at Hotel Adriatic is a hybrid between design and art. It contains a word play linked to the famous sentence from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who at the verge of delirium and a raw clash between reality and duty engages in a struggle with time. Hamlet understands its unstoppable transience, which, like a knot that gradually binds and tightens, forces us to act. The light installation hovers in the corridor, illuminating its trajectory like a subtle reminder of the possibilities of time ahead of us, waiting to be encompassed, firmly grabbed and adapted to our wishes.

Chris Goennawein was born in Germany in 1979. He works and lives in Munich, Germany and Ghent, Belgium. He collaborates with the Clemens Gunzer Gallery in Zurich and c.nichols project in Los Angeles. His works have been included in the following collections: J&A Dammers in Germany; Rock Collection Vienna and Hirsch Collection in Austria; NK, UBS, and Widder Hotel in Switzerland.