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Thomas Baumgärtel

In 1995 the Rheinische Merkur, a regional daily newspaper, featured an article entitled, “A banana finds its way into the arts”. The 40-centimeter, spray-painted banana by the Cologne artist Thomas Baumgärtel has borne fruit in becoming a symbol of quality and has evolved into the unofficial logo of the art scene worldwide. It connects over 4,000 places throughout the world: from New York, to London, to Moscow, Vienna and Berlin.

Born in Rheinberg in 1960, Baumgärtel intends to honor museums and art galleries with the exhibit and, at the same time, creates one of the world’s biggest presentations of one specific work of art.

Most recently, he has issued his “seal of quality” in the Ruhr area. In the scope of the European Capital of Culture 2010, Baumgärtel labelled 60 of the most interesting artistic sites in the region of the Ruhr. This project kept him busy for the duration of two years. Among the places already honored with the spray-painted banana are the Folkwang-Museum, the Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum and the Gasometer in Oberhausen.

The cofounder of the Cologne artist’s workshop society “Cap Cologne” works in Cologne-Nippes and has created the Paradieszimmer for 18arts.

Paradise Room

During research on the topic of the ‘Garden of Eden’ a couple of years ago, I came across a thesis that questioned the apple as the fruit of evil. The popular picture of the apple as the forbidden fruit therefore is derived from an incorrect translation of the Latin word malum, which can mean both, “evil” and “apple tree”. According to this theory, and taking into consideration that apparently no apple trees used to grow in the region where the Garden of Eden was supposed to be, it had to be a different kind of fruit.

I had already treated this subject in 2007 and 2008 for an exhibition called “Oh banana, …you paradisiacal fruit!”, which showed an entire series dealing with the theme of the Garden of Eden. The works were exhibited at the “Neue Kunst Gallery Michael Oess” in Karlsruhe.

To me, paradise is when I can feel truly secure while being asleep, just like in a nest. I feel paradise-like, when it is at the same time cosy and aesthetically appealing. I hope I can make the hotel guest feel not just comfortable in my room, but can also trigger some wonderful childhood memories. The very feeling we used to have when we sat snugly up in a tree-house or in our own home-made shack.

The size of the room enhances this feeling. The smaller the room, the more comfortable you can feel in it. I have experienced this myself, I moved out of my 200m² flat and had to live temporarily in a 40 m² apartment because my new flat was not yet renovated. I had a wonderful time in this small apartment, felt a lot more secured and slept better, than anywhere else before. I have thus tried to integrate these positive experiences into the design of my “Paradise Room”.