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Mucha word piece
Mucha word piece

Reinhard Mucha, Oderin / Untitled (MÄNNER FRAUEN), [1987] 1987 / 1981, detail (photo © Reinhard Mucha, 2016, © Mucha / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019)

LONDON — Reinhard Mucha’s work is unsettling. His clinical, precise sculptures are often disrupted by found objects or makeshift elements, such as packing tape, bubble wrap, and electrical cabling. Their complex titles contain multiple dates: no brackets around the numbers indicate when a piece was first made; square brackets indicate a revised version; and round brackets, the original dates of work by other artists that he sometimes absorbs into his own pieces.

This palimpsestuous process creates a heavy, historical richness, which led a few critics in the 1980s and ’90s to propose Mucha as a potential German successor to his countrymen Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer. Why Mucha hasn’t quite realized this prediction is perhaps, in part, because of his reluctance to exhibit his work. Yet Full Take, a new show at Sprüth Magers in London (Mucha’s first in the city for over 20 years), presents a compelling assortment of his works from the past 30 years. Most pieces are recent updates of their previous incarnations (as is typical of Mucha), while others are in their initial form, no doubt awaiting future reworking.

Before studying at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, Mucha trained as a blacksmith — and in the exhibition’s first room, the sculpture “Wind and Too-Tall Towers, [2019] 1982” showcases his playful navigation of objects and machines. Above our heads are four inverted office chairs clamped to a suspended wood frame, which wraps around an existing structural pillar in the gallery. Positioned on each chair are four functioning electric desk fans; nestled in between are plugs, sockets, extension cables, folded cardboard, and plastic. The sculpture looks like a prototype, with its workings-out on display. The title suggests something more sinister, though: high-rise buildings causing wind tunnels that buffet passers-by.

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