Gerhard Götze

Emil Schumacher


GÖTZE.: Is it possible to speak of an object in an abstract painting?

SCHUMACHER: I'm glad you asked that ... that's quite a problem: in my opinion, pictures without objects do not exist. An object does not have to be recognized. When I've painted a picture, and it confronts me after the working process is finished, then there is »something« opposite me! Suddenly there is an object there that I can communicate with. There is a substance necessary to turn a picture into a persona which stands opposite me and with which I am able to communicate with. Abstraction is not a name to designate my paintings.

GÖTZE: How do you characterize abstraction?

SCHUMACHER: That's not binding for me. I draw from experience in my work. And I attempt to convey this experience in a form. This form is then the object, or the nonobject, or whatever you want to call it. It is a summary of experience, of what I want to become form. The form is then the object, if you would like to call it that. I have found that when I draw a line on the canvas, then an object or nonobject is shown in the line that is really hidden there and wants to be set free. I rewrite through lines and they become objects or nonobjects. That's the paradox. An object is not only that what we know and what we experience in nature. There are also things we don't know that are also there and are included in the idea of becoming.

GÖTZE: Is the Tafelbild (painting on canvas or wood, etc.) valid today?

SCHUMACHER: I think the Tafelbild will also retain its significance, although it has since been called into question, but mostly because of that it has survived. When I began, I tried to go beyond the Tafelbild. I called them »touch objects« which can befelt their whole life long. But I moved away from them because I said to myself that I wanted to make a picture. I wanted to make a picture of the world in which I lived. That is also my artistic concern. Isn't the multiplicity of thisworld inexhaustible? The possibilities of experience are so infinite that they will never end. The world constantly presents itself under different aspects in which man can be creative either through painting or in other ways. Only death can put an end to this. My idea of a picture rests in me ... I have continually attempted to express this idea of painting and of the world. That is the one and only reason why I paint. When the picture is finished , I don't need to paint another. I need painting to live. Living and painting are one for me! It's not that I go to the atelier in the morning and I am finished at noon, no, it continues through the after noon and into my nightly dreams. I always have the incitement to paint a new picture. That's what keeps me young; even now, in my 76th year, there's still occasion for a new picture. What's new springs from that which has gone before. I attempt to resolve any inadequacies in my previous pictures in my new ones. But it is also true that in every picture, in every masterpiece , there are weaknesses and inadequacies. Herein lies the essential credibility of the work of art. Correction would not improve the painting. The reason I leave these inadequacies or otherless aesthetically beautiful »things« is because I say to myself that this is another side, as in life, in which imperfection is evident. As a living face has two sides and if you yourself have two sides, then there is no perfect face, just as there is no perfect painting.

GÖTZE: Spirit and matter: is this the formation of matter through time along with materiality, appearance, color...?

SCHUMACHER: Yes, that's right! I can confirm that. I don't believe in dead matter. Matter contains a fullness of life which has to be discovered. The materials I use are less valuable ones. They are simply paints, paint powders, wires, nails and so on. Through the painting process a spiritualization takes place, through which the material is transported into the spiritual. The gesture is, in this way, the language of the body! My pictures have a very specific size which relates to my own shape, that of the human body. The movement of the arms describes an area which, when exceeded, is no longer proportional to me personally, to my form. To that extent, the gesture is imbedded in the format and in the size of a picture and is also limited by the format. Thus gesture is, in my opinion, not an empty arm movement, but is steered by feeling. It is not simply drawing a line, but has to do with incorporating the gesture in its whole spectrum of sensation, whether decisive or uncertain. At the same time, however, the gradual inconsistencies of line and the message must also be considered.

GÖTZE: Does color have intrinsic value?

SCHUMACHER: Color only has value as part of the other elements of a painting. Color must be subordinated. Drawing and color must be integrated in the picture. These are all relationships, combinations, which must be woven together if this is to become a painting. There are no independent parts.

GÖTZE: How can the different gestures be explained: sometimes you approach the canvas in a reserved manner, at other times in a vigorous, destructive or harmful way?

SCHUMACHER: That depends on the personality, on the character. But, basically, the disposition is established from the beginning. There are variations within this life experession. In the end, these characteristics, whether spontaneous, vehement or suspicious are closely connected. But it must be clearly calculated in the pictorial desire and the correction must be built in. Letting yourself go corresponds to the tragic sentimental whereas the intellectual overview maintains the equilibrium of the message.

GÖTZE: What role does chance play in the creative process?

SCHUMACHER: Chance is of extraordinary importance to me. I usually notice later that something happened that I wasn't aware of. If I didn't perceive chance at once, it would be lost. Nevertheless, when I have brought it into my work, then it is an event, then it turns into light and becomes answerable.

GÖTZE: From line to surface and surface to line can we conceive of them separately?

SCHUMACHER: Line and surface are dependent on each other. It depends on your talents whether line, surface or color dominate. In my case, the line has great significance. In my pictures they circumscribe a space and bring forth figures that I don't know and that are new for me. The line pushes into the color.

GÖTZE: Does the creative act correspond to experimentation?

SCHUMACHER: Every picture is a risk, an experiment, because I always attempt to break out of my field of vision. I must undertake this risk, this experiment, because the form achieved is merely the repetition of an already recognized figurative principle. In view of this, one cannot speak of a creative act. To that extent, each picture must contain risk.

GÖTZE: Is there a constant attempt toward threedimensionality?

SCHUMACHER: In my pictures, I try to bring space forward or to move it backwards. It's still space! I want to deceive the flat surface in order to enter the depths of space. I want to create the impression that there is more than merely the flat surface of the canvas. When I build in various ways, by overpainting and underpainting, I achieve space, space in the picture, imaginative space. My pictures have many conditions. They are not aimed toward a goal. Instead, they begin somewhere, and they grow into a picture in the course of the painting process. I make a line here, some color there, then I overpaint and take something away, then something new comes. It is a continual dialogue with thepicture. Also in the fact that I answer to that which I have just done.

GÖTZE: Does an incident precede each new work?

SCHUMACHER: The compulsion to »explore« a picture is unquenchable. There are different extrinsic reasons, for example the change of seasons, the weather, the moods of those around me. These are, generally speaking, the influences which frame my work. The artistic process remains untouched, it is a constant.

GÖTZE: Does a solution to a pictorial idea become visible permanently?

SCHUMACHER: If I understand correctly, It´s that which was once recognized as correct, the thing which grants continuity? There are changes within the road I've taken, there are side roads which, however, always merge into the main one. The basic idea has remained from the beginning and has become more independent and simpler through the years. My more recent pictures, in particular, have become rather simple in regard to color. I used to paint much more colorfully, little by little I have reduced my pictures to the general tone, to the total impression, which is much more important to me. This is, of course, a maturation process, that one cannot realize when young; personal experience, experience of the world. One's world view becomes more simple with the years, less complicated, it limits itself to the essentials.

GÖTZE: What is the impulse for the verbal naming of a picture?

SCHUMACHER: The titles of my pictures are actually independent of their contents. I name my pictures with madeup names because I think that pictures, just like people, must have names so they can be identified. I used to give my pictures numbers, but they are so fleeting. The title of a picture is merely the name, the content is not affected. Of course I could use names of objects, but they would mislead the observer who would search for the named object instead of looking at the picture. Through the proper names I choose, I provoke a creative confrontation, an experience, in the observer.

GÖTZE: Is the pictorial effect in an archetypical correlation to the world, and does it become part of the world?

SCHUMACHER: Of course! The world and my picures, my position within this environment in which I move, constitute a unit. That can be read from my paintings. The outer and inner parts melt into a whole; the world is brought into the picture as an experience and forms a unit with it. Questions and challenges are shaped.

Gerhard Götze

»Form is
the tool achieving

Interview with JENS TRIMPIN

»The artist remains free and powerless against the system of human acceptance.«
Heinz R. Fuchs

GÖTZE: Your use of lines in your sculptures remind of lines in painting: lines applied on surfaces...

TRIMPIN: Yes, it is indeed new for me, if such a possibility in viewing existed, most assuredly, to boast about such characteristics on surfaces painted by me. What you term as lines is either a tone gradient of furrows left by paint: that is, whether it represents saliency or depth! In reality, it is the point where two painted surfaces clash against each other through sheer volume, reaching containment limits. Out of that springs the spatial and graphic quality.

GÖTZE: My question was not so much about the graphic impression, which if at all allows for discussion, but rather about the breakup of masses, into lit and shaded sides which, I believe, is a vital characteristic of your sculptural work.

TRIMPIN: Yes, it is absolutely there! As I press on, without preliminary sketch, directly on the block! This entails a fundamental concept of one or two volume blocks, at best, related t o this scheme. What the other side would be is practically there. However, I do not consider this to be important in my work elaboration process. My priority is on a slow, continuous evolvement. The choppingoff in the material is not of foremost importance.

GÖTZE: Your surfaces are always defined,never unlimited...

TRIMPIN: They are an open structure, so to speak, which would allow for continuation, or at least a semblance of it. However, it is not so as to give the impression that the sculptures reached the completed stage. No, more importantly, it is first or second condition which makes the determination of respective form impossible. In the ensuing stages, there is always the possibility of faithful »reconstruction«. It is precisely this process which I find important.

GÖTZE: Is there such a notion as something ready in process of being created?

TRIMPIN: It so seems, though the corresponding results are faintly perceived. Even certain items sold as fragments claim themselves much more as finished items. I think here of works by Hrdlicka, which I hold as the perverted result of a fragmentary, formerly authentic form. The works of Hrdlicka embody disregard for the fragmentary: Form which finds its origins in its inability for further perfection. (Let us just mention Michelangelo here, for example!) At the same time, there is disregard for the fragmentary form which wants to remain so, and remain so tied to me. The same with Rodin! It still makes sense! Even if it is only historical. In observing, it gives us the opportunity to relate one to another. However, when a certain Mr. Hrdlicka expounds this to his work rationale, how must one judge this?

GÖTZE: In your sculptures, the line I am compelled to come back to it again takes on a sharply disrupted course. Is this on purpose?

TRIMPIN: In this way I steer clear of concrete manifestation. Tectonics must appear in the foreground. Also should remain preserved the organic appearance of raw material, determining its material state, more than ever being the truly style creating element. No work is transfigured without it! Marble is my favorite.

GÖTZE: What qualities does marble exhibit?

TRIMPIN: I might say, its kinship to water and its shroud of tradition. Those are its two significant aspects! Because of the way I work and the way my work appears, I could be considered oldfashioned. It is still always the stone block, the boulder. Not the cut! Not the holes! This is no mass reduction . . ., that was an accomplishment at one time! Henry Moore calls this working with negative mass. I avoid that, for the nature of the stone speaks back and retains life through its mass and density. These are fundamental properties which I want to preserve. The elaboration process must therefore proceed correspondingly, not too fast always leaving me the possibility to react as a reflector as well as to be an observer. Emerges finally that which I could not grasp before: the elaboration process having precedence, the scope of what preceeded is that which shows results.

GÖTZE: You consider yourself a sculptor?

TRIMPIN: Yes, as opposed to plastic sculpturer! I would even utter to say that the two are significantly apart.

GÖTZE: What does Form represent to you?

TRIMPIN: Form is the tool for achieving threedimensionality, and therefore my sculptures dispense of right angles. The right angle or any other symmetrical characteristics, for that matter, are already precursors of death, of stillness.
Obviously, my sculptures are expected to crumble in their time, not lo last an eternity, and to lose their form. The ideal state would nave been an imperviousness to weather allowing time to gnaw at aform, replace it with another. A new threedimensionality would appear, belonging to the life and death process.

GÖTZE: Why do you use stone exclusively?

TRIMPIN: Stone demands direct physical labor which I find so important! The interaction of blood needed by the brain to reflect and by muscles to operate; this has always reminded me to organ music, where the organist must summon his entire body. Lastly, in music, in the framework of which we speak, there is a parallel with my work, namely the Cool Jazz musician Lennie Tristano; while he plays softly on the piano, he displays no sentimentality or virtuosity; such characteristics form the basis in my work.

GÖTZE: The volume and mass in your sculptures ... are they a result of the handicap with raw blocks of stone?

TRIMPIN: Only by pure coincidence! But in the words' original sense! It happens to some people, because most can get around it. This is just the fascination of perceiving material quality through spiritual channels!

GÖTZE: Did you develop an attitude towards space?

TRIMPIN: I do not have any attitude towards space, or rather towards space in the sense of a container for masses! Quite the opposite! My sculptures have nothing imaginary but representative of something.

GÖTZE: Representative with respect to the raw block?

TRIMPIN: Partially! It definitely has something to do with the raw block, but also with »symbolic markings«, as I call it in lapidary vocabulary, which fuse inspiration and process over a long period of time. At any rate, it has nothing with the preliminary sketch which is none to speak of! I am not afterfashions, but into methodical, lasting workpieces!

Gerhard Götze

The Sculptress
Gerlinde Beck


GÖTZE: For decades you have been sculpturing wood, stone, concrete, terracotta, sheet iron and chromium sheeting, etc. Can one speak of a basic feeling for plastic arts prevailing in your artistic work?

BECK: I think that from the very beginning there was a feeling for space. And this not only for solid forms, but for my own axis as well. In the course of these years the entire sculptural works have sprung from that axis.

GÖTZE: Your creative work is characterized by an intellectual probing that prepares for discoveries once they are made. What is the impulse for it?

BECK: I have different processes of perception; my intellectual probing covers every level of perception, reaction and action.

GÖTZE: Virtual space, concentric movement, even "sound effects" resulting from hollow spaces are characteristics which mark your sculpturing. Are there different synergetic aspects in your work?

BECK: For me virtual space is an entirely normal situation. Whom I arrived at the art academy in 1949, things were such that sculpture or plastic works displaced space physically. From the very beginning I started working from my own self and adapted my works to my own measurements. When in doubt this method assures you of finding your way back to yourself but also of being able to find your own correlating forms and shapes.

GÖTZE: You use the term "stele" for different manifestations of your sculpture. Is the "stele" synonymous for a leitmotiv, a plastic phenotype in your work?

BECK: The "stele" is not a "leitmotiv". The 'stele" and the "figure" are motifs which I got from my environment. They summarize observations mode in Greek, Irish and many archaic cultures. As opposed to the Greek "steles", mine show a flow of movement, for instance in the cubical works which present balance and gravity as themes. In my later "steles", which are the open shaft forms, the frontal, rear and side forms appear more markedly and levels make their appearance; thus making it possible to redefine the "stele". The "stele" is for me the embodiment of pure existence; it endures longer than the existence of individuals. After all, the duration of existence in the "stele” has an absolute reality, something I have looked for and found there.

GÖTZE: Figures in manifold stereometric forms represent an essential group of works in the '50s and '60s of your creative production, Where those figures necessary to secure an image of man so as to make it survive in the transposed form of Hermes, the "stele"?

BECK: Figures are the basis of my creativity; probing the outward shape at different levels, they represent my constant quest for the image of man.

GÖTZE: How necessary was the transitory moment in the course of years, That is lo say, to arrive from one form to the other?

BECK: When you work seriously, there is always one question that presents itself and in order to answer it, an intensive analysis is necessary. Inevitably, the problem you are struggling with widens itself. The "momentary form", then, is only a product of that moment.

GÖTZE: There's an archaic feature, which is peculiar to your sculpture; inspite of extremely severe forms you convey a feeling of nearness and distance opposite your viewer. I'm thinking especially of your double figures in the case of which the outward appearance poses questions.

BECK: Nearness and distance is one and the same thing for me. Viewpoints and opinions merge into each other. My understanding is that nearness and distance should reflect each other in every work of art. In connection with the double figures the "Lichtfugen" play an indispensable role.

GÖTZE: You have been using partial colors for your sculptures since 1954 creating contrasting levels in your works. Isn't color too easily available for your viewer?

BECK: According to my experiences color is not easily available for the viewer, it is supposedly so. With deliberate use of color you have the possibility of drawing space inwardly or causing space to radiate outwardly, as in the open shaft sculpture, which is a difficult matter for the perception of the viewer. Around 1950 I experimented with colors in different plastic forms: balls, cubes, pyramids, etc., the result was striking. The white ball expands, the black ball contracts; with cubes this turns out to be quite different, the white cube can even become a flat surface. For all other colors black and white are corner points.

GÖTZE: The structural style of your sculpture frequently consists of refractions, interestices, projections, openings allowing the viewer to look into the sculpture-body. Is this --seen singly-- their "form effect" and their individuality?

BECK: The individuality of a sculpture springs from the working process of a long series. It is a natural way of change. - The refraction is a reaction to the preceding form element. - In my sculptures there are no static cubes. '- The interestices have the function of breaking off or continuing, even of breaking off the "sound"; they are points of articulation.

GÖTZE: To what degree does the environment stand in relation to your sculptures?

BECK: For me there is no environment. Sculpture and space are one; next to dance. I go into the space around me and let it penetrate into me; there is only a "communicative space; this is the promise on which I work.

GÖTZE: In the '70s your sculptures compress themselves into spatial formations. From that point on they are also joined by a public space, as a forum. In what respect do these works differ from those up to the present?

BECK: I pursue a fine in my work, not chance, and there is no such thing as "work up to the present"! No ready-made art. My entire sculpturing is a matter of continuity.

GÖTZE: How did Environment "Monument for a Woman -Astronaut" occur?

BECK: There are monuments everywhere. Why not one for a woman-astronaut? When you take a look at the work you see it does not correspond to conventional ideas. The woman-astronaut lies on plastic form, connected to space fines and coordination systems. - Well, monuments are erected for those who "kicked the bucket"...

GÖTZE: A series of composers, among them very well known names, too, created compositions for your "Sound Street", which you presented at the exhibition "Ars electronica" in Linz in 1987 and which they played with your husband. Doesn't it come as an enormous surprise to you in moments when "big names" and their young talents in music devise sound patterns to your sculptures?

BECK: I'm happy about that, it enriches my work and apparently that of the musicians, too. Actually, the idea occurred to Günter Wirth; he once knocked on my cubic "steles" and said. "Wow, there's really a ring". "Yes, I've known that for a long time, I answered. However, I did not direct my attention to specific sound masses until I encountered Professor Siegfried Fink, the percussionist at the exhibition «German Sculptors" in Augsburg in 1970. He was fascinated by the sound structures of my sculptures. This gave rise to the first parts of the “Sound Street" which I conceived expressly for the eye and the ear. In 1974 Siegfried Fink then gave his first concert in the "Sound Street" in the Kunstverein of Heilbronn, complementing it with his own percussion instruments. Since then the sound street has been played at many festivals for contemporary music. A music record with works by Stockhausen, Stahmer, Logothetis and Wünsch emerged, limited to the sound structures of sculptures. In the meantime I have been working with the composer Logothetis on further sound sculptures, i.e. we cooperate at times on a synchronous theme.

GÖTZE: Considering the fact that we have only been able to cover a tiny area of your creative work in this interview, I would like again to speak about your exhibitions between 1962 and 1964 in the legendary Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal Elberfeld. What was the atmosphere like back then, when Beuys, Vostell, Schumacher, Schultze and naturally you, too, rendered your intellectual endeavors an incomparable dynamic elan with your work, exhibitions or performances?

BECK: Rolf Jährling, owner of an art gallery and an openminded man,was capable of reconciling the most contrary individualists in his gallery. Thus he created a thoroughly lively scene, which was not without any influence. Over the years I especially observed Beuys, who then figured as an aid to Vostell for a long time, noticing how his artistic prowess left behind an indelible impression all over. He produced an atmosphere that was stimulating and challenging…

Gerhard Götze

Heinrich Stichter


GÖTZE: What is the reason for the constant flow of pictures?

STICHTER: The motive for constantly working is a complex existential problem which seeks its adequate solution by objectifying it over and over again. Let's leave it at this somewhat general definition for the time being.

GÖTZE: How would you characterize your pictures?

STICHTER: That's connected with the first question. The pictures are to be viewed as a continual process and each single one to be understood as a psychograph in regard to the principal and complex statement of the problem. This has been the basis of and has given shape to my life and work. The problem, however, is also an adequate, non-verbal formulation of the question for which I strive. It is an emotionally vital as well as an eminently rational process which I keep putting myself through in my work.

GÖTZE: Where does the tendency spring from to use traditionally unrelated material as an essential part of your pictorial cosmos?

STICHTER: For me there in no traditionally unrelated material I select my material deliberately, in fact, I consider carefully and rationally if it fits in the composition. For all that, the original selection of the material is a very spontaneous one. It is always easy to find useful material when you have clear guidelines to seek with.

GÖTZE: Cross and circular forms emerge as an underlying pattern in your pictures, is this meant thematically?

STICHTER: Diversifying the primitive symbolism of cross and circular forms is first of all certainly a method of composition. These are criteria of arranging which are of elemental force and fascination in contrast to compositions with manifold forms and apparent disorder. The message meant with the cross and circle forms is, to be sure, also a very complex one. However, let's not overdo it with analyzing this aspect psychologically. I'll leave up to the viewer to augment or decrease the value of the message symbolized by them comprohensivaty.

GÖTZE: "Fortuitousness of Movement", does this solve the whole composition now and then?

STICHTER: Probably less often in the earlier phases of my creative work, when painting was a dialectical process of spontaneity and a constant, occasionally even a stubborn revision of what had emerged spontaneously. For about the last three years this had happened - as you put it so well - "now and then".

GÖTZE: "Surfaces in Structural Arrangements" are the mark of many of your pictures; is this the conflict which makes the polarized levels on your picture square into "one"?

STICHTER: The expressive form of creative sculpturing is space. Space and surface in their manifold relationship: a combination bound by rules. There is always conflict and harmony. Question: How do I handle it? Question.- Is the result of the treatment of the combination satisfactory?

GÖTZE: What significance do you attribute to the collage and the decollage in your entire work?

STICHTER: The importance of the working techniques you mention lies mainly in the nature of the material that is applied in layers. Frequentty, I started and realized a work as a collage but found the correction now and then as a decollage. Collage and decollage are two mutually dependent ways of working. The result is often a collage-decollage.

GÖTZE: What do the drawn lines in your paintings allude to? Does it have tectonic or narrative character?

STICHTER: The drawn lines have tectonic and narrative functions. From my point of view I would say that the narrative element is secondary and I might mention here that as far as the message of the work is concerned the narrative element of the lines can be very obscure. In addition to these two functions, however, the drawn lines have still another one as a free, independent, and creatively playful expression of lines.

GÖTZE: Similarly you use canvas, wood plates and paper as a basis for your pictures. Do you arrive at the respective material to be used by chance or do you determine it with a purpose in mind in anticipating the basis of picture?

STICHTER: The urge to the sculptor informs implicite the choice of a picture background from which often arises the preferance of pictures with high backgrounds.

GÖTZE: Does the dimension of time play a role in your pictures? Time as seen from the individually transitory aspect as well as from the historical perspective?

STICHTER: ... apart from the fact that my pictures never develop "in a jiffy", but are always the product of a time-consuming process the collage for example is a series of layers developed in chronological succession: a paradigm for the dimension of time as history. As soon as I add the element of decollage to the collage, the layered structure of the picture once again becomes visible. However, all that is simply a matter of more technical work. My pictures would probably sooner qualify for terms like “static" and "without time”.

GÖTZE: At times your pictures bear titles, do they thereby become the "bearers" of the themes they characterize?

STICHTER: The few titles assigned to pictures are somewhat additional, tentative characterizations, and not in the least arbitrary. On the other hand do we not limit perception by naming the picture? Actually my pictures exist outside the arena of verbal attributes.

GÖTZE: Are your pictures images of the world?

STICHTER: What does "world" mean here; does it mean the world of "our times", the horizon of contemporary history with its ecologic -political disasters and its hybrid character of critical turning-points, does it mean the "world" in its comprehensively metaphysical sense, the cosmos? Which the individual ago faces? When interpretating my work there are certainly symbolical references which can be devised from both of these aspects of the world, but not in a simple sweeping generalization, not in a linear, one-dimensional perspective.

GÖTZE: In the meantime your work spans a period of thirtyone years; how would you define it?

STICHTER: Thirty years - a history of development, it you wish. Some features of this history: a definite consistency in work, permanently strenous work, work bordering on maximum concentration - something not common to everybody. Work which necessitates a certain seclusion...

GÖTZE: Are there any prospects of changes or new perspectives?

STICHTER: I'm still working…

Gerhard Götze

Christoph Fikenscher


GÖTZE: You have lived and worked in Sicily for years, and you have also studied there. Has this going off into the unknown left any traces in your work?

FIKENSCHER: On the surface one can see nothing. However several years in a country like Sicily does not only lead to innovations but also change ones view altogether. In Sicily there is no harmonious lifting, though possibly a sort of theatrical makeup. Contrasts become visible, tangible, even when they are secrets. Sicily is so physically present that it resists every representation or media onslaught. "Strange'', "unfamiliar", "unoccupied", easily prove to be seductive variations of that "otherness" that delivers and seeks to be delivered, and carries with it the risk of resorting too swiftly to rhetorical and sentimental cliches.

GÖTZE: These are the bearers of hope that must be redeemed by the one that uses them.

FIKENSCHER: The artist as a bearer of hope easily becomes the suffering redeemer, by proxy. I do not want to be a part of this art religion. The artist cannot free society from this burden. This would upset the distribution of the roles, however much this might suit those people who interest themselves in such a delineation. The artist also does not work to a pattern, not even an enlightened one. As well as having something to offer, art has very varied personal motivations. One cannot make from this a model for highly complicated processes.

GÖTZE: The more complicated the image of society comes, the greater becomes the discrepancy between the artistic individual and the collective. What is the position of the creative man in this process?

FIKENSCHER: Of prime importance for me, is an alert, inquisitive approach to what happens about me. Also to see how pictures come in. It is a question of attention, of trying not to be taken in by habitual patterns of interpretation and selection. This is above all to be more receptive, reactive. Then I organise this anew.

GÖTZE: order to create a profoundly personal world.

FIKENSCHER: I would rather describe what I do as the result of a personal confrontation with the world around me, so as to distract from the psychological aspect. Today there is an enormous amount of pictures of all possible worlds on call. This was not the case when art enjoyed the privilege of the discovery and distribution of pictures. In this storehouse "personally handmade art" is consistently valued as exotic. The "authentic handwriting" cannot escape the rubric of commodity, and soon enough the rubric counts for more than that which it comprises.

GÖTZE: I would be interested to know your attitude to "ready-made", as you employ at least the niveau of what is possible.

FIKENSCHER: I do not, however, employ ready-mades. I make them myself, as if they were ready-made. In this century they mark the voracity of art, that little by little becomes all encompassing.

GÖTZE: A soiling of art?

FIKENSCHER: A very cerebral soiling of art; because the incorporation of the Wase-matter in the commodity of art, consequently leaves its sensuous quality locked under a seal of rubbish. The expansion of the ready-made has fundamentally erased the limits in both directions.
Of particular importance is the element of shock, that one consumes as well es other novelties, such as information. This does not of course apply only to ready-mades, strictly speaking, but also to the use of unusual or even taboo material. This sting has largely been drawn from art. It is more a question of the whole spectrum of the dislocation of meaning. In a world that is
so rich in artefacts and "artificial limbs" as ours is, one cannot rely anymore on the play on the limits of art/life. Sometimes I have to think of the stucco universe of the Baroque. An immense theatre in which everything that was heard of in those days gained entrance, infectious, but certainly with set limits, both specially and temporally. Today an even more comprehensive media - machine exists - the more perfect it becomes, the loss one recognises it as a machine. One forgets one is playing a game without limits. This is where I come in, with no particular creed. I try to play around with the limits, to create ambivalence with the help of little displacements.

GÖTZE: You do not make it easy for the observer. Your pieces reveal themselves slowly, out of a total sum of impressions.

FIKENSCHER: These impressions, however, do not promote meaning in the same way as jigsaw puzzle pieces. They do not completely match and the observer cannot view them all from the same distance or from the same perspective. This is often a question of scale.
I employ elements on very different scales - setting them side by side or mingling them. Apart from this, it is sometimes difficult to decide if something is magnified or diminished. The oversized checkerboard in "Mes cheris" reminds one of a parquet floor. Medals are in fact small and made for drawers and handbags. The material - they are made out of plaster - and the profile are more related to stucco moulding. The scale changes according to the perspective, as does the relationship to the public or private sphere. The embroidered characters on the pink upholstery can only be seen from up close. They never become legible. They can only be classified as a signature.

GÖTZE: And at the same time, the material or technique - in this case the embroidery - is not in fact in keeping with what is represented.

FIKENSCHER: Embroidery is a slow, impersonal handicraft, but by no means a neutral reproductive technique, especially in connection with the medals.
Apart from this, the written characters are also embroidered on the covers. In this case, however, they are reflected, although one cannot decide if the "mirror" is above or below.
It is as if the actual writing existed somewhere between the two areas with their upholstery and perhaps was still there.
I work with completely diverse material on the surface - this has a thoroughly theatrical element - in order to indicate that which is not present.
But I am not aiming for just any event. I am aiming at the absent substance, even the writing.

GÖTZE: Earlier you used to paint these things.

FIKENSCHER: That's right. In fact that is where I come from. I started out as a painter, with canvases that I cut out, painted and stuck something together between a painting and a suspended skin. I found that I could not keep on with this anymore as I gradually realised that this procedure was too direct; that I was struggling in vain to bring about something by force that in fact could only turn out to be ornamentation, in this game without limits.
Thus, because my attention is trained on a substance that is overrepresented, that is projected, I try to come b etween the signs used and the sought after absent element in order to recall and heighten this tension.

Gerhard Götze

Thomas Barnstein
and his Ideoplasts


GÖTZE: In 1987 you created the term "Ideoplasts" for your sculptures. What are the implications of this term, what does it actually mean?

BARNSTEIN: An Ideoplast for me is an artificially created body, produced by the imagination, which - by means of architecture - expresses and reflects ideas of power, religion, hierarchy and orientation etcetera. I am confronted with a world which I first have to examine for myself and for which I subsequently have to find my own framework. I am concerned for example with such things as the way in which systems of thought or social hierarchies manifest themselves visually. Looking into the relationship and interaction between form and content, their resulting forms and metaphors I find particularly intriguing. The plans of churches and edifices of pomp and circumstance form an important basis for my associations and questions. Which innovative pictorial symbols and emblems could there be for the following: for entering and reception, containment, shelter, for struggle and debate, for the sense of threat and that of loss, for achievement and advance?
I see some of my sculptures as serving as a medium of concentration: they focus emotions and in their vortex thoughts are stimulated. Their often simple and non-rhythmic exterior could be compared to the walls of a monastery, their interior to experience and meditation. I frequently use a piece for isolating an object - as happened for example with my "Pantheon" - in order to try and get a better grasp of it, to learn and understand its value. Sometimes this results in the sculpture seeming almost inconspicious as its point is only revealed in the interior.

GÖTZE: From the work you exhibited in the last few years a constructive order of elements is apparent. What does it consist of?

BARNSTEIN: Of various structures creating space, grids elements which set up rhythm, walls forming special recession. My sculptures are, in fact, architectural bodies, constructions which do not have to fulfil a direct function, but which are expression.

GÖTZE: Is the language of forms you choose dictated by the actual materials you use?

BARNSTEIN: I use my materials – slabs of clay or aerated concrete – as a master builder, an architect. Walls, vertical and horizontal, inclined and arching, put together, form bodies which contain rooms and sections of enclosed areas. In my cast concrete sculptures, enclosed spacial units prevail. They emerge from clear geometrical caste built out of wooden boards and clay. The interrelation of the different sculptural elements, the clash of surfaces creating form, present me with problems I can only solve constructively, by making plans. And then I start to realise what an exciting science geometry can be. I prefer simple shapes to complex formations, though, and exclude other considerations, as for example tactile qualities. I am not interested in living tissues, the apparent quality of a consciously structured surface, in giving form to texture. Light and shade alone should define the structure of a piece which is composed of the changes in direction of its walls, the angles and radi occurring in it should either harmonize or else be related contrapunctally.

GÖTZE: Do the materials and the signs fuse together in your work?

BARNSTEIN: Working with leatherhard slabs of clay, the assignement of the secondary to the primary elements - of the struts to the actual wall - results from their own static nature. I try and make the science of physics harmonize with expression. Vehicles of this expression are clear, graphic, sign-like shapes and in the end it is predilection for this kind of pictorial language which makes me use my materials constructively.

GÖTZE: One cannot help but notice the cylindrical motif, linked to movement, in your sculptures.

BARNSTEIN: These cylinders, or rather their segments, make for the dynamics in my work. These segments of the arch serve as a connecting pieces between angular forms, elements of a muttilayered special object, and in some of my sculptures they fulfil the function of breaking up their solidity. The form of the arch symbolizes tension in contrast to the static. Therefore I often tilt the arch, cushioning it by giving it a counterpart in a body which consists of straight lines and which in itself is structured by contours of shadows.
Two different concepts, the supple and the angular, brittle, enter into a dialogue. The tectonic has its counterpart in an expansive movement. You might think of a town with its many houses, enclosed within its circular city walls.

Gerhard Götze

Mass and space

Interview with MARKUS SCHLEE

GÖTZE: The cube is a red thread in your work. To what extent does personal psychology represent this form?

SCHLEE: The right angles signify the creation of Man, at the same time representing the most obvious linear description of space, the continuum. Even when they describe closed entities, right angles thus remain integrated in the continuous flow of a hypothetical spatial grid; so all directions of expansion into artificial space remain possible. Also, all chords or proportions in cubic references are perceptible with a high degree of simultaneity and clarity. Among the elementary figures the cube is, apart from the sphere, the figure condensing in itself the biggest volume while it has the smallest surface area. In comparison with the sphere, the cube is less variable as regards its position in space.

GÖTZE: Your sculptures strike us with their "geometrical locality". Do you define space and time in this way?

SCHLEE: Life means change, motion. As humans we are barred from experiencing life in its fullest dimension. That is why we use space and time as vehicles. But these remain caught up in their mutual causality. My objects are states of being (i.e. conditions of a connection between space and time) which are defined by their inner structure and its communication with surrounding space.
But the relation between object and space is mutual, too: The non-space hidden in a closed form defines (as a fixed point, so to speak) its surrounding and limiting space, which, however, in its turn is limiting, too.
Sculpturing enables us to widen into full spans of time the moments found in artistic work. We do this by casting moments in a permanent material. In this way, sculptures can newly define time.

GÖTZE: Energetico" is your name for a cycle of differently composed sculptures with a surface, steel and switchboard-like casings. Now, the surface of the sculptures which faces the viewer is very different from the other parts of the particular sculpture. Is that done on purpose?

SCHLEE: The "Energetico" cycle deals in a very concrete way with a particular aspect of my works: with the potential energy immanent in mass. Just like a moment is the expression of a continuum, the solid form of mass has stored the energy of the amorphous, mobile source mass. When it becomes stone, concrete shuts out its surroundings. In order to channel its inner power into its surroundings, I build in forms of material. During the metamorphosis of concrete, these forms become an integral part of it and through this symbiotic relationship are capable of expressing and channeling its gravitation to the outside.
While the surface has the task to mediate between inside and outside, it should not give up its erotic power of barring the outside from penetrating the inside.

GÖTZE: On the one hand your sculptures do not depict objects. But on the other hand you give them titles defined by cultural history. Doesn't the one undermine the other?

SCHLEE: My sculptures are not essentially void of objects, they themselves embody the object. Their object is the attempt to focus common features of existence - which lie at the bottom of apparently incongruous things, terms and perceptions - into a derivative of a new form of being. My titles point towards synonymous embodiments in the creation of Nature. For me, the choice of a topic is determined by its (for me almost archetypal) relevance.

GÖTZE: Do the geometrical basic figures, which you have topicalized so far, stand for an exclusive topos which determines your work?

SCHLEE: The forms I use in my sculptures are the result of the analytical exploration of the sensual, emotional, and rational events in myself and my surroundings. They are formulae for patterns in the world I have experienced. In this sense they are subjective and exclusive. But in their simplicity they invite contemplations from the viewer. As I limit my concepts to frame and aim, the material retains its right to become itself, be itself, and portray itself. This enables a widening from cultural creation towards natural creation.