Hubert Kiecol

This exhibition of Hubert Kiecol’s drawings was divided into three parts. However distinct the groups and their titles—“Waben” (Honeycombs; all works 1991), “Heilige” (Saints), and “Leitern” (Ladders)—may be, the interrelationships among the parts are obvious. What they share, along with the single size of each individual series, is the artist’s urge as a draftsman: using powerful lines, he tries to find a balance between filling surfaces and draining them, between the translucence and the opacity of the images. Still, all these works convey a sense of elementary lightness. The blending of these opposite impressions proceeds in the Kiecol mode, that is, in a quiet manner, in which medium and material, formal intention and formal knowledge, are harmoniously united.

Kiecol’s drawings are produced in a monotype process, with oils on Japanese vellum. They tend to be large, and the themes are universal formal givens, for example, the ladder as a constructed form, the ellipse as a basic form or figure of geometrical order, and the honeycomb as a natural or organic form of architecture. They all express a formal consistency that is both concrete and abstract, both natural and man-made. Kiecol’s approach is metaphorical; formal analogies urge themselves upon us. In these terms, “Heilige” constitutes a group of three drawings in which the artist deliberately sets up an analogy to glory, dignity, calm, sublimity, and the supernatural. Enclosed in a mandala hemmed by rays, the ellipse, outlined in every drawing, refers to an optical system employed in ancient Oriental, Indian, and European art, and then taken over by Christian art during the fourth century. Thus, Kiecol has not discovered a new form, even though his version of the saints is new. His approach in this series is quite consistent with his sculptural concept, and yet it would be wrong to describe them as drawings of sculptures.

These drawings may contain allusions to archetypes that characterize the artist’s sculptural oeuvre as well, but if Kiecol’s cement sculptures tell about the density, gravity, and compactness of concrete, then his drawings celebrate the relaxation, the lightness, and the freedom of their medium. In a sense, we are dealing with a reversal of values, which more or less means that there are forms and rules and orders inside traditional systems that we can consider true. These systems can be natural, as in the case of “Waben,” and thus subject to rational verification as man-made geometric forms; or else they may be man-made but represent the supernatural, and are not subject to rational verification. As a result, these multilayered drawings tell about the compromise of creativity, the artist’s compromise between the unimprovable (the natural) and the new and necessary (man-made). Between these lines the ungraspable has been committed to a solid form.

Norbert Messler

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.