In his exhibition Im Dom in the Secession’s main gallery, Tillman Kaiser presents mostly new large-format pictures and sculptures.

As the artist sees it, a church or cathedral is not a functional structure; synthesizing diverse arts—architecture, sculpture, and painting—it possesses a beauty that is an end in itself. With a nod to the Kantian idea of disinterested pleasure, Kaiser argues that all art—his, certainly—aspires to beauty in this sense. Made in the studio, his work does not depend on the interaction with a specific exhibition site. And yet the half-laconic, half-ironic title he has chosen for his show, which translates as In the Cathedral, transplants us into an ecclesiastical space and hints at the possibility of a spiritual experience. It is a deft stratagem, drawing a connection between the Secession—conceived at the dawn of modernism as a total work of art and “temple” of beauty—and his own oeuvre while questioning the institution’s status and signaling critical distance.

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