“The question for me was about language as a material. And about pushing the objects into a context of meaning. How to do that in the physical world? How to make objects which incorporate this process instead of being victims of it? In a way I didn’t have to look at objects to learn about sculpture. I could just refigure or reconstruct shapes which were already existing in language, like metaphors or common places. The idea of language as a place for the work was the true incentive”
Some conceptual artists of the 1970s used written language with the intention of not affecting the way the viewer saw things or saw the work itself. In the most rigorous cases, the work was, therefore, dematerialised. It became pure language, exactly what was being observed. If we wish to refer to that artistic climate, but look at Klingelhöller’s work, the evolution and the differences are clear. The work is born, evolves from and with written language, but in the transposition into work it does not lose its physical presence of form and matter: indeed it acquires one thanks to the very close link with the possible implicit meanings of the words expressed by the titles of his works. These words, however, are not readable as in a text, except in very rare cases. Marble, bronze, brass, steel, stucco and paper are some of the materials that make the possible meanings of written language visible, translating them. A translation into form which, in a very complex way, does not reduce the meanings but seeks to expand them by using three-dimensional form. By combining a form that can lead us into the imaginary with written language that is not readable, we are given works with open meanings. What is established between the works and the viewer finds a parallel in the reading of books. Like books with the reader, Klingelhöller’s works “give” to whoever “asks”.
Harald Klingelhöller (Mettmann, Germany, 1954) lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. Since the 1980s his work has been exhibited in numerous museums, institutions, galleries and art events around the world such as: Skulptur Projekte Münster, Germany (1987); P.S.1., New York, USA (1987); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland (1988); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, USA (1989); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (1990); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (1990); Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, Canada (1996); Städtische Galerie, Karlsruhe, Germany (2005); Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal (2007); Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2009); Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden, Wüppertal, Germany (2013). He took part in Documenta 9 in Kassel in 1992.