Kempten – In her exhibition “From the Dark Forest” in the Kunsthalle, Anna Dorothea Klug shows impressive and enigmatic figures.
Anna Dorothea Klug unlocks the entrance door of the Kunsthalle and the eye immediately falls on five large ceramic figures that are placed in the middle of the room and form the centerpiece of the exhibition “From the Dark Forest”.
The enigmatic, stone-like figures that stand on their stools as if gathered in a clearing have their very own aesthetic.
Owls, rodents, mythical creatures and humans seem to unite in them and at the same time they are none of the above.
Moods, narratives that have materialized?
Anna Dorothea Klug does not want to unravel everything and with the surrounding space also breaks through the classic exhibition situation: The black paper webs are intended to awaken the association of a dark forest in the viewer.
The 2020 art award winner from the city of Kempten created the ceramic sculptures especially for this exhibition. The basis of her work are drawings – in the Kunsthalle she also shows some of the works based on which earlier of her figures were created. Out of an atmosphere that she wants to capture, through drawing – “actually I draw all the time” – figures emerge, and based on her sketches she finally begins to model.
The manual process is complex: The three-part ceramics are made from bottom to top, each part needs at least one night to dry, the whole figure another week to dry out. Then it is painted with engobes – colored clay sludge – and after firing, which lasts a day and a half, treated with copper oxide: In this way, fingerprints on the surface, ears and noses are more emphasized.
Wrapping and disguise are central themes in Klug’s work, it is no coincidence that the figures are constructed like costumes and can be taken apart.
The artist enthusiastically tells of a book, a gift from friends that inspires her again and again: a photo book about costumes in the Alemannic-Alpine region, which she finds great and stimulating in its naivety because it is completely free of artistic demands.
“And then when I moved to the Allgäu in 2019, I happened to end up at the place where the big Klausen drift takes place.” She is interested in folk treasures and legends, she is attracted by the hidden and gloomy.
But with all the cryptic and mysterious things, humor is not neglected either. One of the five figures is wearing black, spherical earrings. When asked about it, Klug laughs. “That’s the chief.” She has always wanted to be able to decorate her figures, but found it difficult to find a material that would combine well with ceramics. Wood, yes, sometimes plastic would also work. And then her daughter recently brought these pressed cotton balls home from kindergarten. “They’re perfect,” says Klug, “I’m looking forward to decorating my next figures with them.”
Some of their ceramic creatures have four eyes, you blink involuntarily, because with this supposed visual impairment you think you can perceive a movement of the figure.
Even the small heads that are placed on the long side of the room are in no way inferior to the large figures in terms of expressiveness.
They peek out from their pedestals as if from trees, stones, roots or tree stumps, a frozen moment that may long have passed.
Become part of the narrative
“It would be nice if I could take the visitors into this story, if they shared my associations,” said Klug.
A visitor to a previous exhibition who travels a lot in the mountains said after looking at her figures: “Of course, I know them from out there.” Anna Dorothea Klug smiles.
Hopefully your story is far from over with this exhibition.
The exhibition “From the Dark Forest” can be seen until Friday, December 19, in the Kunsthalle Kempten, Memminger Straße 5.
Open: Thursday and Friday, 2pm to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday, 12pm to 6pm.
Admission is free.
The 2G rule applies.