The Job – theme in the work of Gero Hellmuth.

The story is exciting, the motive is fascinating: the literary figure of the biblical Job. Artists and poets have been concerned with this figure, fromearly cata-comb drawings to book-, wall- and panel painting, from altar paintings to scenic illustrations. Since the Renais­sance period and to the present day important names are connected to this pictorial theme, ranging from Taddeo Gaddi to Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Albrecht Dürer­, William Blake, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Dix, Hans Fronius, Emil Schumacher, Thomas Lehnerer und Siegfried Anzinger to Gero Hellmuth. In the works of these artists and in broad literary parallels Job’s fate leaves its mark on history, and not only in western culture.

Between the message of a just God the bible interposes the image of a God who is indiscernible, who apparently permits human suffering. To begin with, the book depicts in a mythological fashion a godly being, passing its time with satanical bets; at the same time, it depicts man, with a strong faith in a merciful God rebelling against this being and trying to force an account of its actions. Because there is one thing this upright man will not accept: the word of God äs proclaimed by selfassured theologists, declaring suffering äs a form of punishment- a notion, which subconsciously haunts the heads of a million people to this day.

The beginning of this incredible story in the prologue: God makes a bet with Satan and puts his bet on Job. Job will not abandon his God no matter what is done to him. After a series of devastating tidings, the „Hiobs­botschaften“, bringing upon him the loss of fortune, horne, family and health, the beaten man struggles for an understanding with his friends. He disagrees more and more fervently with the function of theological ideology, that he who suffers has done wrong and is punished rightly. Job tries God and is being tried himself. Job works himself into the idea that God himself is unjust, even criminal and should be the accused. In his state of exhilaration Job wants to force God to account for his actions. He ends up with the bitter realisation that God is God; he cannot be made to fit human conception and his action are not calculable – and yet it is he in whom Job believes and whom he does not abandon: just, loving, merciful and kind, but in the way of a God.

Gero Hellmuth (born in 1940) has been working as painter and sculptor for many years; for him, music is a horizon under which many of his works come into being. But also the biblicai story as an Interpretation of the questions for a meaning in the life and history of man is again and again a source of Inspiration for him. Early on in his life he gave the Job legend a dramatic structure in seven parts: 1. Prologue in heaven, 2. „Hiobsbotschaften“- Job’s tidings, 3. Trial, 4. Job’s Charge, 5. Search, 6. The Overcoming, 7. Experience. He worked on these sequences in three cycles: initially, in the early nineties as paintings, then, in 1992 as a Montage and finally in 1995-96 in form of metal reliefs using mixed techniques. The works show a psychogram of consciousness of this human being, brought to the limit of the bearable. In Prologue in Heaven (1995) the viewer sees an upright wooden beam on the left, on the right a surface füll of imprints. A geometrical rupture at the upper end cleaves its way downwards through the work, breaking out on its way in informal tears that seem to explode into the space by means of wires, beat- or scratchmarks. The reflecting surface of the metal charges the work with light, responding to the movement of the viewer.

Job’s Tidings (1996) meets the viewer in a gestural sense in form of an abstract and figurative angel’s shape, delivering destruction with an unmistakeable expression, as an energetic Statement. Here, too, a space is opened into the depth of the work by means of incisions, and extended outwardly through beams. The works Trial and Job s Charge (both 1996) seem to portray a fall. Hellmuth cuts open the centre with a broad, vertical cut and dis-plays thereby – using a black wooden wedge, followed by paint, wires, metal and iron parts – the black void of the inside.

The following three works show a reversal of the movement, the shapes and forms rise upward, differentiate in some parts, condense elsewhere, dissolve and rise finally in an upward bend to the right, leading to the light of clarity and overcoming. It depicts the emergence into a new experience, conveying the sense of a new birth. Gero Hellmuth himself is cited in a catalogue text, where he explains that the book of Job teils of an innocent hu­man being, weighed down by severe burdens and severed from all ties with family and society, who at the same time refuse to accept the events as a pronouncement of bis guilt. The book of Job is not about suffering in itself, instead, its concern lies with human behaviour, when misfortune strikes the individual. It portrays the grief-stricken, living existence, and how, in the heart of sorrow and lament, the beginnings of transformation take place and lead from the selfconfinement of the sufferer to a liberating trust.

Gero Hellmuth’s Job revolts against a fixed theology. With a psychological understanding Hellmuth s artistic creations convey a faith rebellious to the point of despair and anger at God. At the same time, his cycle models those personal crises which throw mankind to the edge of his existence. Hellmuth s art helps to raise questions without explicitly stating them. He points to the freedom in art to formulate a question without presenting a direct or rash answer. It is an art which does not disclose itself in verbal answers, but in the still moments and pauses between the questions themselves. The Job-cycles prove this in a powerful way.