Dear fantastical friend and colleague,
For an astonishing number of days, the May sun and a steady east wind have been heating our Cirzipanian realm: quick growing vegetation has burst into bloom even before sprouting leaves, and ponds have begun to extend an invitation to bathe even before the amphibians, still jaded from the winter, have been able to tie their strings of spawn around the first underwater stems.
Then one Sunday my girlfriend, extending her nose into the blue sky, declaims: it seems to me, that I smell distant sea. And as a matter of fact, the wind has shifted course overnight, blowing cold and implacable from the direction of Iceland, dispelling the muted early heat with its rudimentary herald of dark Nordic myths. In biology, such rapid meteorological change would be equated with saltational mutations. And just as suddenly, I land, driven from the garden grown cold once again, in the fusty study, at the flickering screen, to look at your work; and first and foremost I receive the impression of being confronted by a collection of mutated creatures, perfectly without meaning. An apparently erratic whim of nature has been at work here: look here and be astounded - whispers an invisible creator in my ear, a creator in who’s breast the Apollonian and Dionysian principles are united in equal measure- all this is possible! However, ever the rationalist, I know that it was you, in your fantastical manner, as famulus to the creator, that was at work here, full of passion and deliberation!
And inwardly, I embark on a journey to the time of that boyhood exuberance when we were all genuinely scientists, adventurers and explorers, when the parental garden was fecund Amazonia, Cook’s Australia or Mungo Park’s fatally dissolute Africa. A time when we collected fossils, bird feathers and bones in Salamander shoe boxes and fought imaginary battles. In an act tantamount to the laying of Ariadne’s thread, you refused to sever the spiritual connection to this time of world exploration. Quite the opposite: you are now addicted to bare bones, the bearers of flesh and the cave of the spirit. You have become fascinated with the skeletal framework of animate life, not for the sake of the lacklustre study of this elementary matter, but its transformation. How has something grown, what purpose does its structure serve? These are questions you ask, with your astute eye, in order to expand the structure and extend growth. You are continually inventing the new, by grafting the tried and tested. Naturally, a rib can grow out of a nose, naturally, little feet can take root on a chitinous articulated body that has previously glistened in the sun, free of appendages.
What if? This is your calculated approach. And once you have freely transformed the original anatomy, creating a perfect homunculus, we are astounded by the exact form – perfection, the new aesthetic. Elements have not just been glued on and plastered over; instead a new credible form has asserted itself and appears to be impatiently awaiting the moment when it can rise to its feet and walk.
Your sculptural mutations appear to be pursuing the transition to a new perfection of aesthetic form - not any biomorphological goal. This determines the artistic quality of your work: its freedom from purpose and purely functional beauty. You consciously dispense with any illustrative staffage, ornament or façade. A dress only has one purpose, namely to seduce, it functions as vanity’s solicitous stance, it protects, but also hides the essence.
Despite the fortunate relinquishment of an illustrative exterior in your work, you do not dispense with the possibility of narration. Quite the opposite: in the manner in which you exhibit your biomorphous creations, you simultaneously grant them the opportunity of a narrative staging. In distinction to dry as dust archaeological collections of prehistoric oddities, you allow your carcasses of imaginable beings to mount their respective thrones, imbuing them with a theatrical presence, and thus eliciting from us, the viewers, an unavoidable emotional reaction. Suddenly, the beings appear to be possessed of a soul, socialise themselves: I see the proud Princess Shoulderblade, the dark Prince Cephalopod or the unyielding patriarch Parietal Bone.
I climb eagerly into the reservoir of perfectly formed and potentially viable monstrosities, am amazed and delighted at the explorative and inventive artist Dirk Wunderlich.
Malte Brekenfeld, May 2010back