Harald Klingelhöller

Galerie Schmela

Now that the hectic activity around Documenta 7 is over, it is possible to proceed with a thorough viewing of the new scene. Among the work that stands out is that by Harald Klingelhöller, given a concentrated and excellent presentation here. The display, in fact, may play a role in heightening the effect of Klingelhöller’s transrational and transfunctional works to a provocative urgency.

The forms of the architectural sculptures suggest the lectern and the planetary system, but these sculptures neither can nor wish even remotely to do justice to function or science. In this sense, Klingelhöller is among a younger generation of artists that withdraws from the claims on intellectual creativity characteristic of the art of the preceding generation. The esthetic throwback to art of the past is also a component of this widespread and diverse attitude among the new artists; regardless of whether or not the artist is aware of it, the planetary signs prompt recollections of Bruce Nauman’s use of circular segments in his sculptures.

Nonetheless Klingelhöller’s sculptures, with the wood left in a raw state or painted in tones of rust or pale gray, are far from being epigonic quotations. The artist transposes his legacy into a sculptural design that even attains irony, and whose freedom from pragmatic function possesses the openness of intuitive speculation. This is all the more the case since the rigorous, cool manner of construction impedes a plunge into raw emotion. Without question, these works emanate an excitement which is even occasionally menacing. The archaic mixes with the science fictional, conveying an ambience that suggests the emergence of unknown figures who would know how to use these sculptures. But, possibly because of their ironic component, the works deny any indulgence in such adventurous notions. They certainly involve a refusal to go on submitting to the forms of rational pragmatism, which are inimical to creativity and fantasy. This is not a subjective dimension that removes the work to a private level; on the contrary, it is a cultural/political dimension.

Annelie Pohlen

Translated from the German by Martha Humphreys.