Gero Hellmuth

Gero Hellmuth

malerei zeichnung relief plastik

Literatur

Generated Emotions
 
Gero Hellmuth reflects Auschwitz
 
Gero Hellmuth´s art is Art of our present time. His art deals with aspects of a history
which is part of our day and age, in an extremely personal and thus in an authentic way on the
one hand, however, on the other hand as an objective creation in the autonomous way of Art
and her very own statutes. Only in this way his art can touch us – not to understand but to move
us. Means of knowledge will open up which are beyond a simple and often precipitous
understanding.
There is an artist posing questions to himself in the double meaning of the word, not
considering his own or the viewers feelings, admittedly avoiding each and every obvious
titillation. You do not cry out when looking at his paintings and objects, you do not shrink away in
repulsion, but will become quiet and thoughtful.
Yet his work of art does not offer answers to persistent questions, no relieving explanations, no
assistance to comprehend, however it demands to investigate your own attitude but instead to
ask yourself anew concerning possible consequences. The Art as is once again shown here
surpasses herself as and when she remains consequently her very own and the more she
follows her own rules.
In one of his exceptional texts, Franz Joseph van der Grinten has expressed this in direct
connection to Hellmuth´s artwork as follows: There are shocks derived from personal
bewilderment translated into an autonomous language. They are controlled, they are deliberate,
they have taken shape before the critical eye. The onlooker is witness to a clarifying dialogue.
There is a penetration even in brooding, and even through the deepest of darkness, the path
does not lead into something nebulous and incomprehensible, but what appears to be beyond
understanding gives finally rise to realization. Gero Hellmuth knows that expression has to be
generated by form. That is what Art can and must accomplish. Anything beyond that would be
evil.
In numerous paintings, the Number <19> appears in form or content, partly hidden, partly
obvious, and sometimes monumental or else in an aggregate state, stereotyped stylized. Gero
Hellmuth took the <19> from a documentary describing the Auschwitz Concentration Camp,
taking this motif as a lead to his Auschwitz Cycle; comprising the years 1995 to 2003; even
though in later years he also frequently made use of it. It reminds you of the tattooed numbers of
the Concentration Camp prisoners who were registered as numbers only after having been
robbed not only of their individuality but of their dignity as well. Time and again you will discover
this number. In the painting “Mountain of Mourning” these numbers pile up like a hill consisting of
bones. Yet this magical number is not just a recollection of the extermination camps. It is at the
same time the cipher of our past century and is thus hammered into, yes almost painfully burnt
into the viewer´s mind. How much pain and catastrophes, guilt, atonement and sin, did this
century cause us – yet also featuring liberation, understanding, peace and hope.
A key artwork, created in 1995, no doubt is the great triptych “Auschwitz - Liberation”. The three
wooden panels are connected by means of hinges as with late gothic winged triptychs, yet
instead of the hieratic statics, an instable balance has been achieved. Dynamic lines made of
iron are connecting the various parts; they are guiding us when reading from left to right from the
light via the setting-in of demonic darkness, via destruction and chaos, returning again to light –
whereas something hidden here underneath cannot be determined precisely. Can it really be just
a shadow from the past? Have we really and truly overcome these shadows of the past? The
panel in the middle reminds you of a door, the symbol for opening-up but also for closing-in. A lot
remains unexplained and asks the viewer quite a lot of questions.
“Time Witness - Bridge to the Future” is the title of another artwork, also from the year 1995. It
consists of an “objet trouvé”, a ship`s plank which has survived a ship-wreck. This, too, including
the title, an unintentional topical motif, an almost terrifying prophetic work. Like a shadow, the
stele catches the plank from behind, with the numbers <19>dribbling down, so to speak, in order
to vanish in the nowhere.
Hellmuth´s work of art is just as timeless as – sometimes frightening – topical. Darkness is in it,
the reminder not to forget, the relentless confrontation with misery and terror but also poetic
charm and beauty. But never do they constitute manifestos of resignation but always signs of
hope, full of energy. To intensively preoccupy yourself with this in a situation in which signs lead
to an ever-increasing and fatal step back into the Cold War which was believed to have been
overcome, as well as the all too well known disastrous alternate game of distrust, threat and
revenge, could be the dictates of the hour. Did we not understand, or did we think all too eagerly
to have understood it all? In any case we need artists such as Gero Hellmuth and an art like this
one.