A Rare Breed of Sculpture

Stepping into the Chert exhibition space, one could easily feel as if we are interfering in the private affairs, or lives, of the sculpture beings. Seemingly caught off guard, the once animated sculptures now appear frozen in place. As if Medusa had set them into stone.

The room embraces the sculptures; the figures fill up the room as if created precisely for the gallery space. They are recognizable as human figures, and yet something unsettling pervades the room. Perhaps it is the unevenness of their bodies, or expressionless, stone-glazed eyes.

No David here…

Heike Kabisch’s second solo show at Chert, entitled “Deep Down into the Ditch,” is quite astounding. Her sculptures, based on real studio models, carry heavy faces as if the figures are weighted by struggles of their own, struggles that they will not divulge to the viewer. What stands out initially is that the bodies are not quite proportional with the slightly oversized faces, and the naked bodies have neither male or female body parts – somewhat hermaphroditic. While reminiscent of romantic  or even Renaissance sculptures, clear evidence of the artist’s hand in sculpting the rough and overlapping edges and curves reminds the viewer that these figures are not meant to be read figuratively.

heike kabisch, chert, umbrella, sculpture, berlin, artMake a wish! Photo: Under the Umbrella by Heike Kabisch, courtesy of Chert

In the elevated portion of the room – on what appears to be somewhat of a stage – the two “male” figures appear to communicate with one another in their silence. Unsure of whether or not to stay in the “audience” or to join the scene on stage, I finally decide to walk through and examine the sculptures closely, and yet I can’t help but to feel as though I’m interfering in something.

You Can Stand Under My Umbrella

Unfortunately, the first association I have when viewing the presumably male and female figures under an umbrella in a fountain is that ridiculous Rihanna song. But I get past the pop-culture curse and enjoy the beauty of the work. The really intriguing part about this “Under the Umbrella” fountain sculpture is that it was made this year, and yet it reminds one of classical sculpture that appears aged and weathered… almost like something you’d see in a piazza in a small Italian town. In another setting, I can imagine kids running around and jumping into the fountain.

Then I notice that the couple under the umbrella seem to be staring at the figures on the stage – is there some kind of connection I’m missing? Definitely a challenge to the viewer; more questions enter my mind (and stay unanswered) as I explore deeper and deeper into the exhibit.

Feeling very much like I’ve gotten “Deep Down into the Ditch” and have begun wallowing with the sculpture figurines, I’m not quite sure that I want to get out just yet…So I stay a while longer to enjoy the impressive sculptures.

  • Chert – "Deep Down into the Ditch" – Heike Kabisch – March 10th – April 19th 2012,Tues-Sun: 12pm-6pm