Wholly Real, 2010-2012

Kulturzentrum Minoriten Graz, 2011

WHOLLY REAl, 2010 beschnittene orient-teppiche, Cut oriental carpets Courtesy der Künnstler / Courtesy of the artist Ausstellungsansicht: IRREAlIGIouS!  Parallelwelt Religion in der Kunst (2011/12) IRREAlIGIouS!  the Parallel World of Religion in Art (2011/12)

Invalid Displayed Gallery

Präsenz, Ikonoklasmus, Bildverweigerung und Bildverletzung sind entscheidende Stichworte im künstlerischen Gestalten des Künstlers Hermann Glettler.  mehr als 10 Jahre beschäftigte sich Glettler mit abstrakter Malerei, um schließlich die Malerei zu verlassen: Sein Interesse gilt zunehmend der  Auslöschung zentraler Bildstellen, um gerade dadurch eine Intensität in den Bildlösungen zu erreichen. In der Weiterentwicklung dieses künstlerischen Verfahrens begann er mit Überklebungen von Fotos, Postern und anderen Bildfunden. Färbige Sticker, selbstklebende Bildmarker, Klebebänder und ähnliches mehr verwendete er, um eine weitere Bild- und Rezeptionsebene einzuführen. Immer interessanter wurde für ihn das Ausschneiden kreisrunder Bildpunkte und Scheiben.

Die Arbeit „WHOLLY REAL“, erstmals im Kunstverein Zagreb gezeigt, zeigt Cut-outs mit teils gebrauchten, teils neuen Teppichen. Teppiche eignen sich für einen verletzenden Bildzugriff in einer besonderen Weise, da sie selbst schon sehr komplexe Bild- und Bedeutungsträger sind. durch das Ausschneiden der Scheiben werden die Teppiche in ihrer Funktionalität gestört. Für den selbstverständlichen Gebrauch in Wohnungen, öffentlichen Repräsentationsräumen, Kirchen und Moscheen stehen sie nicht mehr zur Verfügung: Als „Fastentuchinstallation“ hat Glettler in seiner Kirche gerade deshalb einen derartigen Teppich mit „Doppelpunkt“ als Altarbild arrangiert. das komplexe Gefüge der Ornamente und Bildmuster mit ihren ganz spezifischen Bedeutungen und symbolischen Referenzen ist durch das Entfernen kreisförmiger Flächen empfindlich irritiert. die ausgeschnittenen Scheiben respektieren in ihrer Anordnung nicht das lesbare geometrische Grundschema der Teppiche, sondern reiben sich bewusst  an diesem, scheinbar einem Zufallsprinzip folgend. die kreisförmigen Fehlstellen erzeugen jedoch eine neue Mitte, die die Intensität des Bildträgers „Teppich“ zu steigern vermag. die entfernte Scheibe entbehrt jeder narrativen Referenz und setzt damit auch die bildkritische Haltung fort, die jeder ernsthaften Bildentwicklung eingeschrieben ist.

Dass sich die Serie der Teppiche auch mit der ikonoklastischen Grundhaltung des Islam beschäftigt, liegt auf der hand. die kultische Benützung und religiöse Bedeutung der Teppiche wird ebenso kritisch thematisiert wie auch in einem dialektischen Sinne wieder verstärkt. die Leerstellen, die wertloses Plastik freilegen, sind, gerade in ihrer trashigen natur und Bestreitung bemühter Symbolik, dennoch auch Verweise. die mobilen Bodenbeläge sind gerade in ihrer verletzten Version, wie sie durch das respektlose Ausschneiden der scheibenförmigen Flächen zustande kam, wieder zu Bedeutungsträgern geworden, wie sie in der besten tradition orientalischer Teppichkunst zu finden sind.

HDLU, Zagreb, 2010 

Fotos folgen

HERMANN GLETTLER: WALL, FLOOR AND CEILING

The psychical and sculptural spatial relationships between floor, wall and ceiling, might seem to remain as formally obfuscated and as contentious as ever. Hermann Glettler’s installation called Wholly Real at the HDLU circular space in Zagreb from the outset asks questions as to the status and use of spatial function through unconventional configuration, and, perhaps, beyond that questions the opaque relational conditions of familiar objects and forms as regards their actual site of presentation. Created as a series of cut-out mass-produced orientalist-inspired carpets or rugs in the large central circular space the installation works associatively on several levels. That is to say historically as regards the building having had an interim pre-history as a mosque, formally insomuch as the circular cut outs echo the architectural formality of the circular building, and culturally in relation to a palimpsest-like environment that has in turn captured and embodied human visual expressions, religious practices, and political ideology. This approach as in much of Glettler’s artistic work and practice takes what might initially appear extraneous and not immediately relatable materials and redirects their former use and meaning. What results is a process of intended de-contextualisation followed by a creative re-contextualisation of the appropriated materials in relation to differentiated forms and cultural function.

The cut out circles excised both symmetrically and asymmetrically from within the central field of the oriental carpets are thereafter dispersed and inverted. The carpets were spread out across the floor of the main ocular or round gallery. But the word ocular needs also to be further expressed since it emphasises the initially random locating of the carpets when seen from an aerial viewpoint in the gallery and ceiling space above. This said the notion of placing and displacing takes on a further meaning, for not only was the function displaced but the orientalist-patterning of the carpets or rugs were similarly laid out in some disarray. The function of such standardised patterned carpets is common to reception rooms, meeting halls, domestic interiors, and of course to the floor areas of mosques where Islamic adherents are always barefoot or slippered. While the fixed sizes, ornament and patterns, be they kennerah, zarcharek, zaronim, dozarr, or mian farsh (to use their Farsi names), has already be symbolically derogated by mass production and industrial copying, it yet remains true that the patterns used retain references to site-specific or orientalist-Islamic locations.[i] Hence the excising of the circles from the centre of the carpets randomises what was formerly culturally fixed by precedent, convention(s) and a long history or oriental carpet production.

Glettler sees this decentring as the possibility of creating a new centre, hence what might appear at first as a form of iconoclasm is intended to create an open space of developmental discourse.[ii] In any event these are as stressed earlier not hugely expensive antique Persian rugs that have been desecrated or violated, but contemporary mass-produced simulacra. In purely formal terms, however, the cut-out circles replace symmetry with asymmetry as they lay upon the remainders of the carpets from which they have been excised. But the fact that many of the circles have been inverted top to bottom seems to suggest that the artist intends another meaning, namely that by drawing attention to the given and to their difference new imaginative and creative interpolations become possible. To interpolate conventionally means quite literally to insert new passages of meaning into a manuscript or text through time, as in a passage not actually expressed by the original author, but has through scribal history (and the processes of copying) become altered or re-directed as regard to its formerly intended meaning. In a certain sense this is what Hermann Glettler intends with is carpet cut-outs, namely that the excised voids are references or pointers to creating a similar set of new interpolative possibilities.

The fact that the HDLU building is also sometimes still referred to as the ‘mosque’ heightens the intensity and meaning of Glettler’s work. But the building itself, built after 1934 as the exhibition space of the Association of Artists, in the Classical style of a circular Roman temple, and later temporarily changed to a Mosque with accompanying minarets in the years after 1938, also garners another idea, namely that Glettler intends conversion in a doubled sense. A conversion of use that is physically material and spiritually ontological; for as the Classical Roman and Byzantine world fell away, it was partitioned in religious terms by either the faith of Christianity and later Islam. So what might initially seem an alien setting for the cut-out carpets reminds the viewer of historical and cultural continuities particularly appropriate to the shared aspects of the Classical-Christian-Islamic history of Croatia and Balkans. The carpets located on the floor also further the idea of a horizontal and non-hierarchical openness, another levelling and open-ended suggestion of discursive possibilities. And, if a reading of this nature infers predominantly that of the historical the iconographic, the actual formal and circular architectural properties of the HDLU building intimate a wider pictorial sense of contained spiritual inclusiveness. The building is after all based on the principle design of a temple.

The development of the use of cut-outs in Hermann Glettler’s work has to be understood against the background of his earlier involvement in the instability of non-objective painting in the previous decade; better still issues of what constitute the objective and the non-objective which has always been of concern to the artist. His desire to deal with the problematic formal uncertainties of both objective and non-objective works led him to engage with found or simply appropriated visual materials such as photographs, posters, and other extraneous desiderata. The intention was with the use of the cut-out to open up a central void in the image which allowed for an imaginary extension to that which remained. The diverse non-intellectual sources of the materials he used is not of immediate significance save that the images were of and derived from the general commonplace. In this instance Californian domestic interiors and settings. However, Glettler’s works do not pursue a form of direct conceptual art, where the idea exists a priori and the materials are used merely elaborate a pre-conceived principle. Installed on the walls of the round gallery HDLU space the cut-out images accompany the carpet cut-outs of the central floor space. A striking characteristic of the images chosen in this instance at the HDLU was that the emphasise a generally domestic nature, interiors, sitting rooms, kitchens or consumer-related images of the houses and gardens.. There also appears a cut-out image of something like leopard tea towel standing as a solitary cipher as you enter the HDLU space. Glettler’s use of the domestic further emphasised the obviously associated relationship with the carpets of the floor space. The use of the ‘domestic’ as metaphor had the obvious intention for the artist of stressing not merely lived in images of interior spaces, but the extended metaphor of the creative interiority of a modernist consumer life itself. And, the artist’s concern with issues of self-reflexivity apparent in the cut-out carpets and wall images furthered the sense of an intended use of pictorial banality, since some of the chosen images used might be considered as a form of everyday proletarian kitsch. And, by using this free generic referent that quickly became a floating signifier, it could be said that Glettler magnified the projected imaginary voids created by the cut-outs themselves, since that which was once expressly signified has been left open to be reconsidered and re-imagined in its new context and the installation in Zagreb.

It seems evident that Glettler is deeply concerned with the conditions and parameters of imaginary projection and signification that must take place on the part of the viewer of this work. The intervention and image displacement enacted through the cut-out process by the artist has to be completed by spectator engaging emotionally with the works in order for their meaning to be comprehended The materials such as they are codify the commonplace of life, and in doing so act as a mirror of an everyday living consumer culture as it is commonly experienced. Hence the installation acts or works as a funnel of perceptions that take place on the three levels previously stated. The first is that of historical association as already elaborated, something which forms the contextual frame for the work as a whole. The second is the formal level that relates itself to actual architectural environment and function of the space, and the third is the re-directed cultural materials that are adapted to provoke a far wider sense of signification – something that the viewer must first comprehend and thereafter try to imaginatively extend. Culture is by definition a personal comprehension and embodied self-reflexive awareness of a particular set of social, ethnic, or behavioural and attitudes that exist around us. But culture cannot be static less it becomes moribund, and by its very nature requires that there must be a constant state of change. Above all culture through forms of visual representation is able to enact the means and create the necessary imaginative spaces within which many of those changes take place. Glettler’s installation called Wholly Real in at one level a witty word-pun on ‘holey’, that is to say having holes in it, but is also at the same time a take on the porous nature of the word ‘real’ which claims to be that which occurs in fact as actuality, and to have a fixed and measurable verifiable existence. It is this assumption that creative artists question, and through their imagination pose ideas and suggest alternative solutions that are of quite another reality. As Herbert Marcuse once observed about the works of artists and their imagination, it is the imagination that makes what is real, what is real does not nor can it ever make the imagination.[iii]

© Mark Gisbourne

ENDNOTES

[i] A series of empirical name-sizes are given to Persian and Turkish dependent purely of their visual size and shape as they meet the eye. A kennerah (runner of various lengths), zarcharek (130 x 80cm), zaronim (150 x 90cm), dozarr (200 x 135cm) or mian farsh (a general name for larger sizes). The patterns often derive for the Great Mosque decoration of the domes, among the most famous being Isfahan, Kashan, and Nain, Qom and Kerman. The knotting system between Persia (Sennah) and Turkish (Ghiordes) also varies. See, P.R.J.Ford, Oriental Carpet Design: A Guide to Traditional Motifs, Patterns and Symbols, London, Thmaes & Hudson, 1992. Also Murray L. Eiland, Jr., Oriental Carpets: A Complete Guide – The Classic Reference, New York and London, Bullfinch Press, 1998.
[ii] The term ‘iconoclasm’ and the destruction or avoidance of religious images was not in fact coined as an Islamic invention, but emerged at an interface between Judaism, Christianity and Islam within the Byzantine Empire under Leo III (The Isaurian) in the years 726-730 CE. See, Leslie Brubaker and John Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c.680-850: A History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
[iii] Herbert Marcuse, ‚Phantasy an Utopia‘, Eros and Civilisation, London, 1969. „The truth value of the imagination relates not only to the past but also to the future: the forms and freedoms that it evokes claim to deliver the historical reality. In its refusal to accept the final limitations imposed upon freedom and happiness by the reality principle, in its refusal to forget what can be, lies the critical function of phantasy,“ p. 124

© Mark Gisbourne
20 December 2011