BEIJING.- For his first solo exhibition in China, the German-born sculptor Christian Lemmerz has created a large installation entitled Hypnosis, which seeks to confront us directly with our own life and not least our own death.
Christian Lemmerz always engages with the major conditions of our existence in his art life, death, love, religion, freedom, oppression and his works are usually executed such that they try to stimulate a reaction from or a relationship with the viewer. Art should function as a provocative confrontation, thinks Christian Lemmerz.
His work starts with the premise that sculpture, like the body, is a phenomenological entity to which we relate with our various senses as visual, tactile and cognitive experi¬ence. And it is precisely this sensory and bodily experience of sculpture that is exploited in the exhibition at FAURSCHOU BEIJING.
In a grid from the ceiling hang hundreds of skulls in front of which the viewer can stand one viewer to each skull. The skulls revolve and function as a fixation for the eye, while a hypnosis-inducing voice speaks slowly and penetratingly into the space and urges us to think about our lives and about the inevitability of death, about death as a release. The question is of course whether the viewer dares to remain standing through¬out the countdown from ten to zero.
Conceptually Christian Lemmerz takes his point of departure in the schism between mass and individual, between free will and oppression whether one stands by ones own modes of thinking and moral concepts or subjects oneself to those of others. And indeed the whole installation evokes associations with a military camp and mass hypno¬sis. Another underlying theme is the religious/philosophical schism between the physical body and the emancipated spirit, between the grounding of life in the physical world and the spiritual release in Nirvana that is known from Buddhism and Taoism, but which can also be found in western thinking and in the Christian idea of Paradise.
Christian Lemmerz trained as a sculptor and has worked with sculpture in many media from the earliest steel wire and margarine sculptures through blood, entrails, excre¬ment, plaster, silicone, bronze and the fine classical white marble from Italy. Lemmerz is also an outstanding draughtsman and in general the conceptual starting-point deter¬mines his choice of material. He has also made films, stage design, book illustrations etc.
Christian Lemmerz challenges our habitual thinking and tampers with taboos. This may be with a basis in Catholicism, in which he was brought up, and which he often proble¬matizes, or it may be with a starting-point in philosophers like Kant and Heidegger, of whose work he has read a great deal; but also other thinkers and writers, or our own mass-mediated reality, where death and suffering are central themes that provide the stimulus for his art.
Christian Lemmerz uses art as a space for reflection, a place where one can give telling physical form to investigations of identity, existence and being. He often does this with shocking insistence, or with a striking beauty that captures the imagination of the viewer and provides something to take home and think about.