Surface in Flux: Michael Kutschbach



Nearly a decade ago, Michael Kutschbach indirectly unleashed a form that has proliferated and consumed his practice to date, manifesting itself in a range of media, from paintings, reliefs and sculptures, to mammoth mixed-media installations and hi-tech multimedia projects.

The form in question emerged in 1998 when the artist inadvertently made a gestural mark with the palm of his hand on a white enamelled board using oil paint. The result of this unintentional gesture was a curious, enticing blob that immediately absorbed the artist, directed his subsequent work, and which continues to preoccupy his prolific output. 


Kutschbach’s fascination with the blob derives from his longstanding inquiry into painting’s position in a contemporary visual landscape overflowing with fluid, constantly shifting surfaces (artificial, reflective, translucent, holographic, electronic).  As an expanding, organic surface in continuous flux, the blob, for Kutschbach, serves as an exemplary analogue for the present-day visual landscape.  In reflecting on this amorphous figure, Kutschbach writes, 


The blob motif that occurs throughout my practice is a form […] without a fixed state, it is active and lively, unstable and unpredictable, continually in flux, capable of being divided or multiplied infinitely and reformed again into a single form.


In practice, with every new corpus of work, the protean blob has assumed a plurality of faces, materials and techniques, including: hand-painted, cellular-like stickers; computer-cut vinyl adhesives that resemble membranes, distorted hoops or ‘speech-balloons’; luminous, lacquered plaster globules whose wilted forms conjure confectionary (picture gigantic, glossy Nerds candy); laser-cut, Perspex and aluminium reliefs with Anime colours and styling; and shiny, shape-shifting 3D computer-animated biomorphic forms. 


The driving force behind Kutschbach’s practice is a desire to visualise the transformative power of paint and surface. From the luscious, candy-coloured plaster blobs with their alluring acrylic coating, to their wobbly, mutating and morphing virtual counterparts, Kutschbach strives to develop surfaces that are seamless, fluid, organic, mobile, seemingly alive and perpetually shifting. 


The Adelaide-based artist has an impressive list of critically acclaimed solo exhibitions in South Australia to his credit, and has also participated in a number of important interstate and international collective exhibitions.  As the recipient of several prestigious awards and international residencies, Kutschbach’s extensive travels abroad (including Toko and Berlin) have expanded the scope and formalism of his art and enhanced its audacious engagement with new media.   


Audiences can expect a bolder, grander and deliciously unconventional treatment and transmutation of the blob in Kutschbach’s forthcoming show.


Hosseini, Varga. Surface in Flux: Michael Kutschbach, Australian Art Collector, issue 34 (October-November), p.241, 2005