Exhibition “Vessels – not only out of Glass”
Gefäße - nicht nur aus Glas
Eine Ausstellung im Glasmuseum Immenhausen
vom 12. März bis 23. Juli 2011
Gruppe VESSELS und ausgewählte Glaskünstler
mit 25 VESSELS-künstlern
Statement March 2011
Last week I visited the Glasmuseum Immenhausen for the first time. My journey took me through Kassel to the small town of Immenhausen, which is embedded in a gentle, undulating countryside.
I was curious to find the small museum at the end of the street, a small, hidden relic between abandoned, dilapidated glass manufactures and railway tracks. Nothing about the building reveals its precious interior.
I enter the museum. The architectural space on several levels has become a vessel for glass art, history and design. And this is already our theme for the evening: every one of you entered this space, this museum, this architectural vessel tonight in order to visit the exhibition “Vessels – not only out of Glass”.
You entered though an opening from the outside.
You can touch the walls and floors of this museum inside and outside, you can explore its interior, but you can also go outside again to look at the building from the outside. Once you have seen the inside, your perspective from the outside will be a different one. The museum – a vessel one can touch and explore from the inside and the outside?
What can you not do as a visitor and viewer?
You cannot simply change the thickness of the walls with your hands. You can neither stretch nor compress the form. You can neither dissolve nor structure the haptic surface, nor can you compress the material or make it disappear, nor can you play with it.
You will have noticed how my introduction is slowly focussing on this exhibition and how the perspective of the viewer becomes that of the ‘maker’:
The vessel artist shapes, feels and creates with his hands and his eyes. He senses and feels his material every day. He is fascinated by the materials, the forms, the compositions, the movements, the surfaces and the expressions. The dimensions of these works can be tiny, but they can also be so large that you can walk right in.
The artists in this exhibition create spaces, spatial structures, vessels and sculptures. They create something like a skin or hull, massive or delicate, as a division between inside and outside.
Due to the museum’s theme “Vessels – not only out of Glass” and the required presentation in showcases, the selection of works focuses on smaller and more functional works by the artist group VESSELS. Usually the Forum for International Vessel Art and Free Art goes beyond mere vessels, vases or bowls: Mural objects, free-standing sculptures, figurative works, drawings and paintings form parts of the artists’ oeuvres alongside the works displayed here.
The main issue is the artist’s intense preoccupation with space, the divider between inside and outside in the broadest sense – an intense study of the material in all its facettes – from vessel art to art in general. Vessel artists create shells, vessels, bodies, which form a dividing membrane between the space inside and the outside.
The artist group VESSEL thus borders and often even enters into the realm of free art or fine art. Many of its members work in fine arts as well as in arts and crafts. They are members of both the professional association of fine artists as well as the arts and crafts association. They exhibit at shows of applied arts as well as at art fairs and art exhibitions.
This deliberate path on the borderline and beyond is not always an easy one.
On the contrary: Some works are considered too free, others too applied. But who decides? This is what the artists frequently ask themselves. Is it not merely about a good, aesthetic, expressive and original artwork that conveys a message? Is it necessary to differentiate according to “free” or “not free enough”, “applied” or “not applied enough”?
As an artist, must, or rather can I decide before or during the creative process: “Oh no, that is too free – this work should be applied!”, even if the material and my innermost core cry for freedom? I think any art historian would agree that this is not the right approach.
It is a fact that: each of the works shown here is the result of mastery of material, technique and creativity. Unmistakable individuality, originality and personal expression are accompanied by the artist’s innermost aim to visualise certain inner values and a personal awareness of life. These range from sensuality, liveliness, transitoriness, movement, power, energy, a closeness to the soil, humour, history, clarity and many more to a renunciation or perversion of normality.
Together, all this forms an expression which touches the viewer and invites him to fathom further.
To me it is irrelevant where the artist stands. He determines his actions, his facettes evolve from a personal development, forming a picture that can be considered art as well as design and “applied art” or several things at once. His person, his “gesamtkunstwerk”, his projects and his expression are distinctive and immediately give away the author.
In order to assess art, it is by no means enough to view three works in an exhibition from a distance – or even more profanely, on an internet site – and then to assume that one knows the artist and is in a position to judge. No, I believe that it is essential to visit the artist in his studio, to get to know him and to study him inmidst of his all his works and views.
This is precisely where VESSELS tries to transgress borders: to show and realise artworks that go beyond the mere “applied arts” with ease and enter into the realm of fine arts; but also to present works that, while of supreme artistic quality, intentionally or unintentionally remain applied art. VESSELS does not judge, VESSELS opens up possibilities.
We are truly grateful to the Glasmuseum Immenhausen, for allowing us to exhibit here, and particularly to Mrs Dagmar Ruhlig for organising this exhibition. We would also like to thank the Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst, which gave financial support for this exhibition.
text: Henriette Tomasi
translation: Kerstin Hall, London, GB - art translations