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Sculptor Peter Hohberger


The Nude



The visitor to the gallery went into raptures over Mataré's sculptures. She had read a review in the newspaper: The Plastic Works of Mataré. A female torso was shown. Ornamental symbolism was spoken of. She then attended the exhibition and was excited. I do not care for this style of Mataré's; I do not like art that represents itself as art. This art was unmistakable, the simplification of shapes; I don't like this kind of artistic expression. It repels me. I also do not care for reduced forms, the ultimate goal of which is the ball shape, the greatest expression with the least possible surface area. It bores me. The straight, emaciated forms, too, which are considered to be expressive of the spiritual, bore me. The newspaper article also spoke of succinct forms, of rounded and oscillating and swelling volume. Brancusi's work was mentioned as an example, and Mataré's natural prototypes, which overcome individuation and integrate every individual life into one universal creation idea. As if he, the newspaper reporter, had any comprehension of this universal creation idea that he believed to have rediscovered here in these works. He spoke of contemplation and purification, as well as of the plastic ideas which the early work formulated and which bring into accord the initial and the completed work.

However, what the critics have to say about Mataré's work does not interest me. What does interest me is a woman's body and a woman's face. What does interest me is the woman, and when sculpture is my means of expression, I use sculpture to express this interest in the woman, to show what fascinates me about the women whom I find attractive. Everything is so simple, and for certain people so repulsive and shocking and shameless, and not art at all, but instead a poor imitation of nature, or pornography. "I don't care for such work," says the gallery visitor, and goes on: "You will find out that this kind of sculpture can only be a transition phase. You will reach a point when you will have to defamiliarize things. You must give them a form," and she showed me the newspaper article, calling to my attention the picture of the female nude in particular, which she found enchanting. That was art, that was style. "That's a vase, not a woman," I said, and she said, "I find it simply wonderful," and she mentioned likewise something of idols and origins, and that it was just this that was so great about it, and sculptures like this nude made her want to touch them and run her hands over their curved surfaces. [In her opinion] a sculpture should make one feel the need to touch it, to run one's hands over its surface, its form. In that moment, it hit me like a bolt of lightning, illuminating my true desire, the realization that it was that very thing that I did not want, people feeling the need to touch my sculptures, to stroke them. Since I wanted to portray what is most intimate and most hidden, meant to be seen only by the lover and no one else, each touch would be a violation of that intimacy. I would like to create female nudes that are so exact, so personal, that one dares at most to touch them surreptitiously, that the viewer actually feels the prohibition which prevents one from touching the nakedness of another, because every touch would be something forbidden and tactless and an incredibly brutal and shameless, hurtful action. When confronted with the nakedness of this strange woman, the viewer should feel shy, and yet at the same time curious. The sculpture must also be a love story in which the man who sees the woman, and to whom she shows herself so, is not visible, but made apparent only in the way that it is just his eyes which saw, and may see, the woman as she is depicted in the sculpture. Okay, the so-called artist; no, not the artist, for in the eyes of the art world and the exalted disciples of art, he is not an artist at all, but only an imitator of nature. All right then, the person who shows such a thing is not actually silent, but expresses the beauties of an intimate moment and shows them, reveals them only to those who know about such things, and not to the others. To those who know all this, to them I want to show these nudes, to those who feel with me and suffer with me and who are fascinated just as I am, so that we do not need to endure the burden and the pain of love and of sexuality all alone, but instead are able to find people who feel the same as we do. In so doing we confide in those people who have likewise experienced the pain of happiness. "This is the way it is; now you can experience it once again," is what my sculptures say and nothing else, and those who are piqued and tickled and embarrassed by this, and laugh like the eternally pubescent and crack jokes, these people should keep away from what I want to show. I speak only with those who love and no one else.


From the German translated by Lynne Kvinnesland.



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