The exhibition 'Schatz' part of the festival
Denkmal! Kunst Kunst Denkmal!
2 – 11 October 2009
Five historic buildings are made available as artists’ workshops and serve as studios and galleries at the same time. Inside, visitors witness the creation of new artwork as well as the historic building stock and experience the monuments and the town of Hann. Münden from the artists’ perspective. The buildings, normally not accessible to the public, are thus open to those with an interest in historic monuments and visual art, and a lively exchange can develop between visitors and artists.
During the ten day 'Denkmal! Kunst' festival from 2 – 11 October 2009, a total of twenty-three historic buildings in the town centre of Hann. Münden become exhibition spaces. The festival program includes evening events covering a variety of genres, from readings, cabaret and music to performance art. 'Denkmal! Kunst – Kunst Denkmal!' has become a building block of the Fachwerktriennale (Half-Timbering Triennial) and is incorporated into the National Town.
Catalogue for the Exhibition
A part of the festival
Denkmal! Kunst Kunst Denkmal!
2.-11. Oktober 2009
Tanja Wentzlaff-Eggebert asked the artist about his thoughts on ‘Schatz’.
TWE: When did you have the idea for these pictures and what interests you in soft toys?
DH: I am interested in what we give up in order to become adults. We accept children showing a deep affection towards soft toys, and the relationships they develop with them. These key early relationships are marked by trust and openness, but over time we internalise society’s norms and expectations, causing us to close up. Independent of this, some soft toys are funny, others are cute or ugly, with bold shapes and colours that otherwise rarely appear in our adult world. I have been interested in this topic for a long time.
TWE: What are the stories behind each of the figures?
DH: Some of them I have with me always. Of others, and this is equally significant, I know the owner or the person who made them. Soft toys were best friend, confidant and companion, always loyal and never judgemental. We use them to reflect what we have gone through. They give solace and love and we can show them a kind of affection that we sometimes can’t express to other humans. When we grew up, we were at some point expected to put our soft toys aside and focus on relationships with humans. This may have been a big leap when it looked like they were not available. Maybe we see in our soft toys something that we look for in other people, but which we believe they cannot fulfil.
TWE: The scale of these works stands in contrast to their subjects: You show small soft toys in large format images.
DH: We are attracted to them because they are cute and cuddly. Not to let us adult viewers escape the intimate contact with the subjects is one reason for the large format: it is supposed to lift them out of the world of the cute and cuddly. Our relationship with them was a little like rehearsing for the ‘grown up’ world. We were observed to see if we could show what is expected of us in an affectionate relationship. As adults we are ashamed to admit that these objects still mean something to us.
TWE: Are there role models that have interested you in particular?
DH: The colour palette and brushwork of some of the images are inspired by works in which I see something I strive for in my own. Among them are some by Gauguin, Velazquez, Hammershoi, Magritte, Preston and Courbet. I have, through composition, brushwork and colouring, endeavoured to imbue each subject with life, without fixing any particular emotion in the faces.
TWE: How do these works respond to the space in which they were created and where they will now be presented for the first time?
DH: Scale and form are a response to the Rotunda, and my choice of colour and texture to the tertiary colours surrounding me in this studio. This space allows the viewer the opportunity to come very close to the image, to almost be absorbed by it. However, here the work can also develop its impact when seen from a large distance. Both are essential to me. I wanted the images to float between floor and roof structure; the viewer should be entirely surrounded by them. This has not only affected my brushwork, but above all the relationship of colour temperatures – within individual works as well as in the whole series.
TWE: What matters to you about how the viewer approaches the work?
DH: It is not necessary that the viewer knows about my thought processes. Obviously, my motivation for creating these images is important and I am happy to share it with those who are interested. But this is about the paintings themselves; the viewer should be free to develop their own relationship with each image – or not, as the case may be. I find the endless possibilities of seeing and responding to art invigorating, and I do not at all want to prescribe any particular way.
This interview took place by email in August 2009.