ADAM BUDAK (Chief Curator, Czech National Gallery, Prague)
July 2011

 

Clemens Hollerer neither conquers the space nor embraces it with an intimate gesture. His 'sculpture-in-action' oscillates between minute and fragile, hardly visible and ephemeral interventions into the urban fabric and monumental, large scale constructions of a radical and invasive, quasi-architectural nature, always providing an impressive evidence of the artist’s critical and alerted perception of space and its formal and sensual qualities. Here, like in Perec, ‚space is what arrests our gaze, what our sight stumbles over: the obstacle, bricks, an angle, a vanishing point. Space is when it makes an angle, when it stops, when we have to turn for it to start off again’. Hollerer’s performative approach results in establishing dynamic sculptural situations that emphasize space’s vibration and instability and set up a viewer’s new, refreshing relationship of both disagreement and negotiation. Sharp edges and curves, sudden turns and uncontrolled twists, broken lines and irregular sequences constitute the substance of the artist’s seemingly solid structures and their porous surfaces. Hollerer’s temporary shelters are indeed subjective architectures of vulnerability - mazes of a dystopian self on a search for mathematical precision and geometric clarity, bridges of conflictual realities, scaffoldings of impossible order. Always as if about to collapse, simultaneously violent and tender, these are edifices of ambiguity and rupture: parasitic yet supportive, zones of both entrapment and repose, oppression and escape. Encompassing a variety of influences, Hollerer’s (breathless, somehow punkish) poetics of space combines immediacy, spontaneity and instantaneousness, typical for photography (the artist’s principal training) with the rhytmical tempo, sequentiality and vividness, coming from Hollerer’s passion for music and live events that involve participation, relationality and interaction. His quasi-anarchic and perplexed installations are in fact kinetic paintings in a liberated space: voluminous surfaces, masterfully choreographed by a passionate follower of Palermo and Matta-Clark, framed within the abstract fields of interrupted lines, born to life by their colors and rough, industrial materials. Mimicking the (anti)form of the everyday (construction sites, public space’s security and support systems, street-work alteration and renovation labor), Hollerer questions the white cube’s paradigms and museological standards. Oversized and aggressive, too disturbing and hardly accessible, the artist’s often monstrous and impulsive structures act like unwanted guests of macabresque fairy tales, self-imposing their improvised presence within always too conservative institutional frame. While critically mapping the claustrophobic space by an interplay of scale, dimension and volume and an oscillation between reduction and accumulation, they tease the viewer with their inappropriatness, lost innocence and nonbelonging thus turning a spatial experience into an imaginery journey through estranged landscapes of postapocalyptic ruin. Theatrical void and operatic plenty are features of Hollerer’s wounded space in blast and explosion. Such is the artist’s radical manifesto for a current world of a suspended disaster and precarious future. If, as it was recently speculated, following Carl Andre’s definition of sculpture ('form equals structure equals place'), Palermo’s definition of painting were 'form equals structure equals place equals time', could Hollerer’s definition of spatial Gestalt be articulated as an organic conspiracy of form and structure towards a deconstructed place as a process-based act. Executed as a spontaneous unfolding of spatial and temporal narrative, Hollerer’s is Mallarmean graceful pacing of a meaning: random and obsessive, heterogenous and transitory.