Harald Klingelhöller

Galeie Philip Nelson

In Harald Klingelhöller’s show here, sculpture was introduced with quotation marks—literally. These were two angular, mirror-covered floor pieces, volumetric forms resembling single quotation marks (like irregular pyramids with quotation-mark-shaped bases, laid sideways). These “quotation marks” introduced or articulated two clusters of cardboard-and-steel elements as a relation of forms in space. Each mirrored piece reflected and developed the other pieces and the physical space around them. Space as a mental reality is a linguistic syntagma, while as a physical reality here it was a flattened paradigm embedded in the mirror quotation marks.

Klingelhöller’s work is strongly related to language. Linguistic forms are the most complex and achieved forms and at the same time the most structured and relevant model for developing a thing. As such, they provide the means by which sculpture is effective, serving as a foundation for its practice and a soil for its understanding. For Klingelhöller, this is a way out of formalism and conceptualism, although he is dealing directly with form and concept at the same time in his work. Sculpture is form in space, while space is concept in mind. Confronting these two realities, the work becomes as complex and fluid as a linguistic structure that permits any kind of content within its given form—and also allows further developments within the transformational system of the given combining forms. Elements for Balconies and Letters of the Words “Unrecht schreit”, 1986 (which was installed in the second room here) is an example of such a work, with its enormous corrugated-cardboard cutouts of letters of the alphabet all clustered together and leaning against a wall.

To the question “What does this work mean?,” Klingelhöller might offer the same reply about sculpture that Arthur Rimbaud once gave about poetry: “That which is there, literally and in all possible senses.” As with Rimbaud’s poetry, sculpture is to Klingelhöller a strongly suggestive literal and linguistic development of form. Form is a relation that makes possible all kinds of essential and complex mental configurations within physical space. It is a nexus of rhythm, scale, and image within a material state of things and in the imagination.

Form at its highest level is rarely explicitly formal. In Klingelhöller’s sculpture, we confront space and the concept of space, visual form and image, literary content and physical shape, perception and understanding all at one and the same moment, inseparable from one another. Form and linguistic structure are not only analytical—that is, a language commenting on or describing things—but also synthetic. A thing in space, if it is not merely an object or an accidental display, states and develops an event of form and space that is more than just an esthetic statement of volume and mass. The only quotation in Klingelhöller’s sculpture is stating that there is no other quotation than the one of a pure artistic event and a clear form and concept for art and sculpture. What is there is exactly that which is there, literally and in all possible senses.

Denys Zacharopoulos