Art News & Views



Many Moods of Eberhard Havekost

by Tanya Abraham

Kochi. As a prelude to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale due to take place at the end of the year, Lalit Kala Akademi's Durbar Hall, for the first time, is housing an International show which otherwise is limited to museums and exclusive galleries of the world. Organized by Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in association with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the show titled Sightseeing Trip, exhibits works of an artist who uses contemporary ideas in an urban setting. One of Germany's most recognized artists, whose works have been appreciated and collected by renowned collector and museums of the world, Havekost (1967), used the chaos of the urban to create imagery, which is closely related to the cities of the world. Aspects related to a modern world have been captured in various dimensions - images from a window or a moving vehicle, the frenzy, chaos and fastness associated with today's world has been recorded by him, both as paintings and photographs. Each of the images he portrays are extensive in meaning, although they maybe specific and tightly projected or is a vast picturisation of a subject in thought. In many ways, it can be concluded that the artist recognizes the busyness in people's lives, which result in immense personal and inner losses. His paintings are also blurred, as if haziness films the work. It is intriguing, for behind this screen, it seems, exists a stronger and perhaps volatile subject which has been masked for reasons. Preceding this blur, is the existence of an artist and his ideas, which have been captured and portrayed - that leaves a daunting question in the minds of the viewer-  what is this blur? Why the blur? And what is behind the blur?

It feels like there are many layers attached to each work, that need to be peeled off.With each peeling a new idea could be revealed. Havekost uses window panes, glass shutters of a building, or a glimpse from a speeding vehicle to blur the image he displays. Manipulation of the art work using computer programs, sets the table for 'new-age' contemporary works that gives the feeling of prints having taken the likeness of a painting, and paintings the feel of graphic/poster art. Havekost also uses colour very intelligently in his work. In addition to luring viewers, they weave ideas and realities together - for example, urbanization and man, man and his surrounding, and then the inner [personal] lives affected by it.  His flat paintings offer a sense of 'slowing down', even if placed in a scene depicting fast imagery. Although the title of the show called Sightseeing Trip is soothing in name, it seems a  distant [and even perhaps cynical] approach to a view of what is happening in this urbanized world. Havekost creates numerous moods through his works: one of slowness, speed, angst, calm, emptiness and fullness. And in these moods, he brings forth views and emotions that are to tug at viewers [in various dimensions].

Kerala for the first time has had such a showing. As a prelude to what is to come, it has been the start of many a viewing of International calibre. Whether the depth and the strength of the show has worked in ways the artist has intended, is a question. But it remains an interesting question all the same - for if art has to play its part, the effect and the results are as important - How far has Havekost's works reached his viewers?Upendranath T R, artist and resident of Kochi explains that Havekost's works, to him, seems not a political statement in any form, "but of an observer of a society such as his, who has worked within a space of freedom." He adds that Havekost does not seem part of a society in terms of rebellion or a fight (for change). "I compare him to another German artist who was in Kochi for an art residency. She was affected by the social and political changes in Germany: The wall having been torn down, her husband having committed suicide. Her works it seemed were an extension to the disturbances she had undergone. Havekost seems different, he seems detached. To me it seems more as a process of an artistic work. The technique and what it involves." Art collector and gallery owner, Edgar Pinto says that although he impressed by the treatment of the works, it didn't do to him what works of other artists have. "We are in no way left behind in terms of talent, and although the exhibition is a great exposure for Kerala, it should offer confidence to India." Layman Peter Paul, who was at the exhibition after reading about the show in the newspapers, say the show was interesting - 'because it made me understand that people have similar concerns and understanding about life, the world and urbanization. 'Of course I had to explore each work carefully to understand it, but yes, it lured me.' Although some expressed the expectation to see a larger collection, others felt it indeed is a privilege to have Havekost's works displayed in Kochi. All of it thanks to the upcoming Biennale.

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