Two representations of rams.
The first idyllic. A memory of a time before the modern present. Perhaps the first should correctly be called Central European rather than German because the artist was born in a Germany which has been Polish since 1945.
The Goat Wagon, 1992, synthetic polymer paint on printed fabric. Sigmar Polke, German 1941-2010. MOMA, NY
The second a prognostication. Man-Ram holding a device which looked to me like a magnet, pointing to the earth become a blasted heath.
I have since been corrected and advised by my friend, Carl Weissinger, a master artisan and pastel painter himself, that what Man-Ram is holding is called a plumb bob.
It is used “to establish a point directly under an elevated point or vice versa in construction. A very ancient tool.”
Orakel, 2017, acrylic on canvas. Michael Ehrhardt, German born 1981. From the artist’s WordPress website
The most remarkable aspect of this juxtaposition to me is that the life of Sigmar Polke was deeply and negatively affected both by the Nazis and the East German Communists.
Which double catastrophe was, undoubtedly, one of the sources of his imaginative and fecund art. Calling us to hope and to dream.
Hope is: Wanting to Pull Clouds, 1992, polyester resin and acrylic on canvas. Sigmar Polke, German 1941-2010. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
And that Michael Ehrhardt, on the contrary, is a child of decades of peace in Europe (the Yugoslavian (old name) civil war excepted) and prosperity.
But he is seeing clearly. Backwards to the use of ancient tools to move forwards.
Gassi, 2018 30 x 30 cm, Acryl auf Papier und Leinwand To Walk the Beetle, 2018 30 x 30 cm, acrylic and paper on canvas. Michael Erhardt, German born 1981. Image from the artist’s WordPress website.
A freighted, playful, thoughtful, and – recalling Kafka – a compassionate idea. The man and the beetle are moving forward in the blasted heath, neither the worse for wear in a degraded physical environment.
For which focus I am hopeful because SuperMan and SuperWoman, Captain Marvel, Luke Skywalker, everyone in Game of Thrones and the movement called AfroFuturism aren’t saving us from anything real.
Wizard World Convention in Philadelphia in mid-May, 2018.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended for one week. Adults outnumbered children by far.
Dreamers. Contented people pursuing their happiness.
But I was left a little disquieted, nonetheless.
What if we were to place this much energy and imagination and colour and time and money into our decrepit democratic institutions and into the health of our earth.