Thomas Rentmeister (born 1964 in Reken, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), lives and works in Berlin. He studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he followed classes with Günther Uecker and Alfonso Hüppi. In Rentmeister´s work, references are made toward Minimalism, but he refreshes the severe stylistic vocabulary with a healthy dash of Post Pop and Dadaist nonconformity. Ursula Panhans-Bühler has called this “impure or dirty Minimalism.”
Rentmeister has become known to a larger audience with his high-gloss polyester sculptures which look like oversized blobs or comic figures. He adopts a set of industrially mass-produced domestic materials as units or building blocks, from sugar cubes and cotton tips to Tempo tissues, electrical sockets and whole refrigerators, and thent he makes sculptures using these materials. Exhibition catalogues and features emphasize Rentmeister’s humor. “His tools are humor and his approach is that of the parodist.” He knows how to align density in form and content with humor. But Rentmeister is more than a senior ironist. Thomas Rentmeister in an interview with Deutschlandfunk: “My work is saturated with irony; but this is not the only motivation that drives me. If you omitted the irony, my oeuvre would still work.”
The motor behind Rentmeister’s work is the balancing act between seduction and repulsion, between the aesthetic and the unpleasant. The artist wants to find the point where the sweet, the beautiful, suddenly turns into the disgusting, the repressed and the inappropriate; according to this, Rentmeister’s whole oeuvre is characterized by a fully developed paradoxical strategy of ambivalence. The “theme of transience” also discreetly but nevertheless unmistakably permeates broad sections of his oeuvre.