AboutI first met Wulf Treu on a warm early Spring Sunday in 2008 at the re-opening of the Victorian bandstand in Arnold Circus, Shoreditch, London. We were introduced - I told him I liked his name and he bought me a book from one of the stalls selling stuff to help pay for the bandstand's renovation.
The book was Peter Barham's Closing the Asylum The Mental Patient in Modern Society, and it was signed âTo Damien from Wulf Treu (approved mental patient since 1972)' along with a cartoon he'd drawn of a gnome performing oral sex on a large amputee carrying a banner saying âFAN BOYS SUCKER CLUB'.
This image of distorted, ambiguous sexual power seemed to me to be asking one big question: Who's really in charge the parent or the child, the government or the people, the giver or the taker, you or me? It's this fundamental theme which is further explored in the remarkable exhibition of his work at StART SPACE. Who is your Daddy? is a series of work about power and control sometimes erotically driven, sometimes paranoid, other times sexy, tender and humorous.
What I love about the work is the powerful sense that there is a kind of cold war still going on in Wulf Treu's head. Who is his Daddy? God, Germany, the USA, the gun, the army, the police, his ego, his father, his penis, his gallerist, his audience? The work is warm, perverse, innocent and dirty. It's also very funny, even when it's going for the jugular.
His exhibition is certainly timely, as it coincides with a major show at the V&A called Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970 which explores the production of design during a period of high anxiety, when tensions gave rise to a paradoxical optimism born of unprecedented technological advancement. Wulf's work sits well with this. Some might even say that we both have good timing.
Head of Programmes , V&A