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JOHANNES LAUTER

 

Opening: November 14, 2008, 6-8 pm

Exhibition: November 18, 2008 –€“ January 9, 2009

 

Installation views Am Rand der Welt

 

Light and dark, black and white, sun and shade –€“ the life-size wooden figures by the Berlin-based sculptor Johannes Lauter confront us with such contradictions. Born in 1972 in Dasing, Bavaria, Lauter underwent a classical training in wood sculpture at the wood carving school in Berchtesgaden. In 2001, he began his studies at the Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe, where he graduated in 2007 in the class of Stephan Balkenhol. In his first solo exhibition at Galerie Uschi Kolb, the young artist will show a new group of works made since his move to Berlin.

 

Lauter–€™s figures are always dressed in black: shirt, bow tie, suit, pullover, hat or even occasionally shorts. Everything carved from wood. The men are young, apparently still in their late twenties, and look finer, thinner than we would expect of living people. The often finely carved features –€“ we occasionally even recognise a smile or the physiognomy of a Friedrich Nietzsche –€“ might allow the viewer to hope briefly for something familiar or individual, before this search comes to an abrupt end. The black men reject any kind of familiarity and individuality. They withdraw from us, are standoffish, aloof –€“ apparently untouchable. It seeps through the viewer like a chill: these figures are closer to the next world than to this. They are from the edge of the world. This impression is enforced in the male figures with a dog. Bare skulls rest on intact bodies: here, the dog resembles its master. Is the topos of death undergoing an incarnation?

Commuters between this world and the next can be seen also, if more encoded, in the two male figures with their arms around each other–€™s shoulders like good buddies. Both have a hare on a leash. In art, the hare is always the symbol for rebirth und resurrection –€“ here it is on a leash. –€œBrüder zur Sonne–€ (–€œBrothers, to the Sun–€), the title of the work, is a line from a song that originated around 1900 in a Russian prison and became the hymn of the German labour movement in the 50s. Are dying ideals being given a new lease of life –€“ or even revived?

Again, an answer cannot be ascertained. At the edge of the world, transitions between the dead, the living and the reborn cannot be determined. Here, even Nietzsche can lean casually against the wall, with a youthful body and outfit and question morality, religion, philosophy, science and art merely through his still presence. Good and evil, light and shade, yin and yang, inseparably bound, interwoven and nevertheless still striving for clarification. In Lauter–€™s extraordinarily impressive sculptures, these themes are given a profoundly forceful presence.

 

Julia Garnatz