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“Balances” by Hubertus von der Goltz

“It’s not important to reach your destination. What’s important is staying on the path…”

All of Hubertus von der Goltz’s works have one thing in common: while other sculptors may devote themselves to abstract forms, to a detached aesthetic idiom, his art and his creative process remains oriented towards the human.

Looking at his work chronologically, however, there are changes in thematic focus and in approaches to involving the viewer. The intended message of his works and artistic production become more abstract, increasingly moving away from portraiture as the category “human being” comes to the fore.

The early works constantly manifest the relationship between humans and space, or more broadly between humans and their surroundings, with a strong focus on specific individuals. Elements of spatial design, transitions between the actual portrayal of people and their presentation in space are not mere functional props, intended instead as supplementary characteristics of those portrayed. In this way, plinths or pillars, mirrors or hints of a cage take on a special significance in the artistic interpretation of particular people and their relations with their surroundings.

The transition to silhouette and wire figures, depersonalizing those portrayed, is accompanied by an altered weighting of the spatial elements and a thematic shift. Von der Goltz no longer wishes to model only the character traits and milieu of a specific person, beginning to focus instead on the theme of humans in their surroundings more generally. Surroundings, space, paths, crossings and bridges stand as abstract symbols for the confusion and obstacles, the social and psychological problems humans must tackle and live with.

Birth and death, the beginning and end of this balancing act, are undefinable, located in the void. A specific end point or destination is not qualitatively superior to a beginning or starting point. The end and the start are the same. For von der Goltz, the path between these points and the process of making this journey are the theme, not the origin or the destination. It is against this background that objects and titles such as “Crossing”, “Detour”, “Each For Himself” or “Out Of The Void” acquire their special content.

The stylization of the figures and the reduction to simpler artistic means and materials point to an altered role for the viewer. Rather than presenting the artist’s interpretation as clearly as possible, suggesting an outcome, viewers are now expected to supply their own interpretation, their own meaning. The artist’s message is limited to foregrounding the balancing act and the path, ascribing meaning to them as such. In this way, von der Goltz subverts a longstanding characteristic trait of western cosmology, doing so without leaving the framework of artistic expression. Western cosmology is goal-oriented. Life does not have meaning in and of itself, but only as the means to an end, in the acquisition of the fruits of paradise in this world or the next. In terms of both thinking and behaviour, problems and confusion are dealt with in pursuit of said goal on the basis of “search and destroy”. Making the process of coping and overcoming into the constant content and perpetual meaning of life is not part of western cosmology, but it is there in the works of Hubertus von der Goltz.

Fritz Tiemann