Bernd Lohaus - 2009 - Decisive Incisions [EN, essay]
About Bernd Lohaus
Bernd Lohaus was born in Düsseldorf in 1940, where, after training as a classical sculptor, he went on to study at the Academy under Joseph Beuys. His first exhibition, El Nascimiento del Huevo [The Birth of the Egg] was held in Madrid in 1965. On show was a chair resting on four fresh eggs. There were happenings too. Eggs were consumed and also dashed against paper attached to the wall. Another happening consisted of the simultaneous recital of the alphabet in four different languages. The letter which corresponded to the first letter of the language used was replaced by the name of that language (e.g. a, b, c, Deutsch). Another intervention consisted of an alarm clock going off. Two years later, at the New Smith Gallery in Brussels, Lohaus exhibited works involving rope and ‘coudrages’, i.e. paper or fabric embroidered with needle and thread.
Now, more than forty years on, Lohaus is still making sculptures reminiscent of those early interventions. Though varied, his work is also very consistent. Whether bronze or wooden sculptures, beeswax-covered crates or boxes, pencil drawings, water colours or rope works, they always reflect a sparing and humble approach, which results in a powerful spatial and poetical statement. The longer you look at the work, the more moving it becomes. It is uncompromising, tender and honest.
Lohaus' work might be described as a succession of decisive incisions, which bring to an end a period of observation and contemplation. The noisy alarm clock cuts the air like a chisel. At the same time these incisions remain shivering on the surface. Lohaus uses very hard wood, which is not easy to work. His inscriptions are minimal. Sometimes the wood has merely been touched with chalk.
The shallowness of the inscriptions gives Lohaus' work an architectural dimension. The sculpture becomes an object with an intriguing skin, which from close up resembles a landscape. The bronze sculptures are architectural designs for gigantic formal exercises, altars, chapels and megalithic tombs. At the same time, the large, heavy beams lie like scars on the skin of the earth.
You might see these sculptures as dubitative drowned men lying at the bottom of the sea as in Rimbaud's poem. You might also detect an affinity with the 1967 'coudrages': poems by someone who likes to touch a surface gingerly. Or you can view them as architectural proposals.
Montagne de Miel, 30 April 2009