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Clarachurch Basel presents a selection of works by Heikedine Günther
Kern No. 288, 2017. Oil on canvas, 160 x 110 cm.

BASEL.- While in the interior of the Clarachurch a few select works of Heikedine Günther enter into a dialogue with the beautiful and active church space, outside the church, on Claraplatz, the kinetic sculpture of the core dress P-a no. 408 invites from 7 to 14 June 2019, passers-by to pause for a moment and watch the action within the four-meter high, slender steel frame.

For only those who dwell on a little notice that the dress in it, made of plain linen cloth, which is carried by a balance, actually is in motion. In a slow upward movement within four minutes it unfolds to the very top, revealing the hand-printed cores in soft red on a blue-gold shimmering ground, to sink back down after a short while again in the same period of time.

This rhythmic cycle of unfolding and sinking in is accompanied by a balance, the scales of which hang down on the left and right of the shoulders of the dress. They are filled with topsoil.

The individual cycles or courses of the core dress are each 108 cm high. They carry in their center a core. The cores are unique monotypes of natural pigments in oil, which the artist created from oil paintings made for this purpose. As a kind of echo, each core appears a second time on the back of the dress. They stand for the radiance of the nuclei, which is reflected in the glowing gold trails around the nuclei. Through the sheer size of the dress and the rhythmic calm of the recurring cycles of unfolding, the installation creates a devotional, meditative atmosphere, for those who are ready to perceive it. It invites you to linger and to take a moment of pure joy of perception in the middle of the busy bustle of the square. The sculpture is linked tot he site by the materiality oft he dress, antique linnen. With its archaic materiality, the dress refers to the first order at the Claraplatz, the Sackbrüder, who owed their religious name to the fact that they wore clothes made of burlap.

In the imagery of Heikedine Günther, the core stands as an archetype for the innermost being and its individual potential, which can unfold from it – be it microcosmic for an emotion, such as hope, an idea or the essence of a human, or macrocosmic for a religion , a philosophy, a worldview.

The earth originates from the home of the artist, the Warburger Borde, which is known for its fertile soil. As a nutritious topsoil in which the seed kernels of the cores can unfold their individual potential, they are in a precarious balance, which can be disturbed at any time by external influences as well as by the movement of the dress itself.

On one hand, the movement is an expression of the processiveness of the nuclei, which always stand for the potential contained in them ready to unfold. Jean Tinguely, one of the masters of kinetic art, has expressed this reference in his Manifesto for Statics: Stagnation is Death, Life is Movement. The only thing that is always the same is that everything is moving.

On the other hand, the majestic slowness of the movement and the oversize of the dress contrasts with the archaic and touching bareness of the old fabric. The movement of the dress as the outer shell of the body also suggests a presence of this absent body and its core. Just as the presentation of the armor of a ruler, as a direct image of his body, during the Renaissance became the representative of the essence of his power, the dress becomes the bearer of the core and its potential for development: we live in cycles and in every cycle we have the opportunity to grow out of ourselves.

The core pictures inside the Clarakirche
As you enter the church and leave again, the visitor in the anteroom passes through a large red felt core filled with sunflower seeds that invite you to take them with you and bring them into the world. Anyone can take the seeds with them, put them in their pockets and put them in a suitable place in the ground, hoping that they will unfold and realize their potential.

On the far other end of the church, right in the middle of the apsis, the bright cores of the large-scale Grisaille Triptych Kern No. 337 339 shimmer through the whole space on their dark ground. Like all oil paintings by Günther, these also build up the plasticity of the cores on a gold background by means of several layers of paint. Here, however, they are exclusively created with black and white color values, whereby the spatiality of the canvas is designed by means of painted light and not by the different spatial effect of the colors.

The triptych is not only formally oriented towards medieval panel altars. The alignment of the three cores, the central straight core, and the two cores laterally inclined to it, unconsciously correspond to the frontal alignment of the main saint and the saints facing him, as found in medieval triptychs, such as that of the festive day of the Ghent altar, 1452-1455 by Jan van Eyck and his brother Hubertus van Eyck.

Together with two other large-scale core pieces, they offer the possibillity to actively engage with the imagination of the innermost (essence) of the core respceively, whatever the individual recipient sees in it. The core as an archetypal image, as in C. J. Jung's archetypal doctrine, can be interpreted almost indefinitely. It can stand for the self of the viewer, for a seed, a cell. But also for the entire cosmos. In this openness of the assignment of meaning by the universality of the archetype of the core, every visitor is addressed.

Even nowadays, a beautiful large space, like the central nave of Clarachurch, results for most peolpe to unnoticably slow down their path and raise their inner presence. This special inner awareness being the reason for several contemporary artists nowadays and in the past to repeatedly exhibit their works in sacred spaces. For Günther, whose works are intentively created for the simultaneous interaction between work – recipient and space, the notion to be very aware of the space one is moving in, is very closesly connected to the process she is interested in offering with her works of art.

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