Thomas Baumgärtel – Bananas everywhere
Rheinberg am Niederrhein, 1983: Catholic hospital, crucifix fallen from the wall, crucifixion of a banana peel: a key experience that prompts the civil servant Thomas Baumgärtel to study art. Having been kept at college to paint fruit still lifes, he - overcoming the academic painter mentality - soon peeled out the pure motif of the banana.
In 1986, in a night and spray mist action, Baumgärtel set his first banana graffiti on the gallery portals in the Belgian quarter of Cologne. Today marks his banana to the 6000 art places between Moscow and New York. A long-term concept that Dr. Reinhold Mißelbeck of the Museum Ludwig Cologne described in 1995 as "the largest Dadaist action in art history".
In view of the threat of criminal charges, initially only active under the pseudonym "banana sprayer", Thomas Baumgärtel has been taking part in international exhibitions since the late 1980s. With an ironic reference to his former professors, today he also produces "fruit pictures" in acrylic on canvas; but what looks like oversized apples, pears, or lemons is composed of many small banana shapes. Baumgärtel "paints" with stencils. In the technique he described as "banana pointillism", the picture cycles "The Old Masters and the Banana" and "Never Again War - Only Bananas" or motifs such as Clinton and Kohl, Cologne Cathedral and World Trade Center (1996) were created from 1994 onwards.
For Thomas Baumgärtel, the banana is a basic element, a tool, sometimes even a weapon - but one that he uses with disarming humor when, for example, he ennobles art buyers into works of art by means of banana pin ("Jeder Mensch ist ein Kunstwerk", 1997), with a banana sculpture weighing four tons he seems to ram the portal of the Cologne Cathedral ("Wir lieben die Hohe Kirche", 1998), or to penetrate the Brandenburg Gate ("Wir lieben die Vereinigung", in planning).