GODHEAD

52 X 76cm • OILS • 2016

During the Hellenistic era and in early Rome, as well as portraits, sculptures were highly regarded. Besides artworks of Roman emperors and scientists, with an almost photographic realism and naturalism, also existed a typology of ideal sculptures which combined individual characteristics with more general ideas of beauty. Over time, different styles of portrait were developed. For example, from archaeological investigation we know of about one and a half dozen different types of portraits of Alexander the Great. The artist has used one of those categories as an initial incitation, here also showing a photographic reference to a Roman copy of an Alexander´s head, more precisely a type which is called “Akropolis-Erbach“. All the different styles were named by their place of finding or the place where they are kept.

 

This head is characterized by elegant curves, an aristocratic touch, soft eyes and eyebrows, an almost childlike nose, as well as sensual lips and chin. Above all, the brilliance and moisture of his huge eyes is normally understood as a reference to his enthusiastic and emotional temperament. These kinds of emperor sculptures are so charismatic that they look like images of young Gods and mythical heroes. It is still undecided if the emperors imitate the gods or if the gods imitate the emperors. The original sculptures were probably created by the Greek sculptors, Lysippos or Leokares.

 

Marcus Sprigens has painted this picture, Godhead (2016) in a classical artisan style called “Grisaille”, which means to paint strictly in darker and lighter tones of the first mid tone glaze, usually umbers and warm tones, in this instance blue has been used. Different layers of colours and translucent “scumble” are also applied. Here, the calm shadows of colours in pale blue intensify the impression of a lively bust made of stone. Additionally, the artist has changed the classical character of his incitation with an almost photographic crop. Due to this extract concentration, there is no crown or special head dress, nor distinguished precious clothing. Nor the whirl of hair situated on the forehead, which when used in that way is emblematic of announcing and symbolizing the bravery of a lion., where the hair acts as a lion's mane. In the context of scientific research this kind of hair is named anastolé (which means “to throw up” or “to throw upon”).

 

In this picture only the displayed sections of the physiognomy make for the positive identification of emotions: the eye and the brow, the nose, mouth and chin: a very limited repertoire of indices indeed to document the divineness of the god/king shown. Therefore, the painting seems archaic and modern at the same time. In between this strategy, which acts like a torso, Sprigens nevertheless has shown the mentioned details as heroic items. The brow has more energy, the nose more maleness, the mouth more full, the eye has more volume and glaze. Doing so the artist changes a boy to a man who is on the edge of his power, force and development. These details and the sharpened shadows also show the protagonist as a man experienced in pain. So the artist mixes antique iconographic formulas with Christian, even eschatological motifs. In this respect his god also shows and evokes sympathy.

 

Godhead (2016) of Marcus Sprigens, combines religious charisma and political power with cultural and scientific competence. A carefully meditating god is shown by the artist. Past and possibly future evils and nameless frights are reflected in his empty and anticipating gaze. There seems no way out, but to exist. So the artist shows us a powerful creature who by reflecting on himself is not able or willing to execute his power without care. So it is a god with no orientation who criticises his own criteria of decision making; a doubtful god for whom the doubt is essential. On the other hand we see both the sensibility and empathy of this god, who is more sympathetic than a pure macho emperor just executing his decisions without sensibility. So the message of this artwork is quite clear: emperors as well as powerful people in general and even gods should be aware and should take care of their power, working and dealing with it, with more hesitation and scrupulousness than boisterousness, brutishness and violence.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

TORSO

52 X 76cm • OILS • 2016

Figures without clothing, sculptures, paintings or photographs of nudes focus on the movements of bodies, their light and shadow conditions under natural light which stress their plasticity and their proportions. The main point of such art is always about the harmony of the different parts of a body with each other, the frozen movements and their grace, the play of muscles, sinews and pulsating veins underneath the skin. Life itself seems to look through the surface of the skin. Since the eras of ancient Greece and Rome and all the following epochs of art, a fascination towards harmonic bodies seems unbroken. Especially in the area of nude photography, the focus concentrates on light and shadow of the bodies reaching therefore, sculptural dignity. Black and white photography fits much more for those aims than colour photography.

 

Marcus Sprigens has chosen a historical nude photograph as incitation for his painting showing a female torso or maybe a real body just acting like a torso. Normally a torso means a sculpture without arms, legs and head. From ancient times, especially from Greece and Rome, many of such torsi are delivered. But their rudimentary forms do not signify an aesthetic decision by their sculptors. On the contrary, the originally intact artworks were partly destroyed during wars, violence or by corrosion and wear and tear during the following epochs. Firstly the Renaissance and then, mainly the 18th century, defined fragmentary torsi as a type of aesthetically autonomous works of art and created such torsi on purpose. The French sculptor Auguste Rodin propagated in the 19th century those sculptures as independent three dimensional forms with special aesthetic values and rules. In doing this he provokes a real boom of torsi. Following his ideas sculptors like Wilhelm Lehmbruck or Georg Kiolbe and then Henry Moore, Gustav Seitz, Alfred Hrdlicka and Marino Marini have created torsi. But also present day trash art by e.g. Bruno Bruni, Paul Wunderlich or Jagna Weber have used such forms and have made them a la mode.

 

The artist refers in that way to one of many delivered female torsi figures of the Hellenistic epoch as incitation. Nevertheless there exists even more male torsi, as classical sculptures, a fact allowing one to draw conclusions as to the popularity of human bodies in Greek society. Possibly the artist was attracted by the cut-out character of the figure. In that way, he positions his figure straight in the format of the used canvas: her extremities seem to be cut away. But due to those cuts in general the three dimensional characteristics of a torso are hardly there. The painting much more looks like an intact, complete sculpture with extremities which are not visible but existing. Especially on the position of the shoulder indices, where the arms of the woman are raised above her head. This is normally always a sign and a symbol for devotion and ecstasy.

 

Marcus Sprigens' aim was to transfer the mood of nostalgic photographical aesthetics into the medium of a painting. The artist therefore translates the full corporeal plasticity of the sculpture into a painterly soft aesthetic which looks a little like a classical sfumato where all contours, almost romantically become smooth. One may remember wordings like, “In the shadow of blossoming young girls"” in the mood of Marcel Proust, Novalis, Friedrich Hölderlin or Rainer Maria Rilke.

 

Sprigens has used a restricted variety of colours for this painting: only potash blue, grey and white in sensitive graduations. These coolish colours in a more mechanical than creatural mood, in a way create a lively but nevertheless machine-like touch. An artificial atmosphere of neon light, so to say a second nature with which the cool light of urban catacombs has replaced the warm, sunny and primordial first nature light. Therefore, the artist shows us a filtered situation. The artificiality is as cold as attractive, simultaneously voyeuristic and discrete. In that respect, nakedness becomes a kind of clothing.

 

In a technical way this blue based painting has bright areas as well as hollowed shadows. Firstly adding a glaze of purified linseed oil with the colours blue and umbra, which have been commonly used since 1650. The artist then sprays an alcoholic nebula on the painting so that the colour body becomes bubbly and fluffy. In that way this artwork oscillates between opaque and translucent colour impressions from tonal valuing in a Grisaille fashion. Finally a light glaze follows and then lucent gloss varnish.

 

The torso painting of Marcus Sprigens looks nevertheless like an almost brutal cut-out of a formerly larger painting, which has neither space nor possibilities to show the normally irregular intersections. This impression in this painting becomes aggressive like a precise amputation performed by a surgeon. But simultaneously the female body has an erotic attractiveness. This ambiguity makes this artwork exciting and thrilling. Obviously the artist's adaption of the antique reference, positions it also in the field of modern nude photography. The presence of the past, the actual attractiveness of historical beauty, an intuition and apotheosis of their momentariness and also a ritual of this transiency.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

THE SALUTE

42 X 59.4cm • OILS • 2015

The empty, seemingly endless spaces wherein Sprigens’ painted sculptures seem to float weightlessly, are metaphysical abstractions in the tradition of Giorgio de Chirico. In both images, “Abstract Figure” and “The Salute” are kept in a cool, gray-blue, despite all the abstraction, anthropomorphic proportions of human figures do still shine through. There are heads, limbs and bodies in prismatic fragmentation. In the picture “The Salute” the association of female form is more articulated than in the picture “Abstract Figure”. Buttocks, waist and chest are abstract but precisely clarified. To that extent, these two images are also quite heroic, because each lays down, or even celebrates, the attractiveness and beauty of harmonious proportions, yet with Cubist distortion.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

ABSTRACT FIGURE

42 X 59.4cm • OILS • 2015

Based on abstract sculptures, “Abstract Figure” and “The Salute” (nest page), both broach the exciting game of three-dimensional, concave and convex surfaces. They are irregularly and sharply set against each other, resulting in a volume of archaic forcefulness, as if generated by carving stone with flints and hand axes from prehistoric times. On the other hand these forms are also reminiscent of Cubist sculptures from the 1920s and also to works by Alexander Archipenko, Jacques Lipschitz, Ossip Zatkine or Pablo Picasso.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

ARCHAIC REMNANTS

OF THE HUMAN PSYCHE

120 X 60cm • OILS • 2015

Painted in pale primary colours, this picture creates a teeming tide pool of psychogenetic memory flashes with its masks, skeletons, animals, architectural fragments and symbols of ancient cults and religions. Prehistoric and eschatological references combine with crystalline structures into a scattered cosmos of fractured uniformity.

 

In addition, the artist also shows the culturalized worlds of classical modernism such as Lyonel Feininger, Hermann Finsterlin or Erich Mendelsohn. The faceted pyramids are reminiscent of H.C. Escher as well as those of ancient Egypt, whilst the birds remind one of Pablo Picasso’s doves. Such cultural, historical associations and references stimulate the imagination of the viewer.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

LOST WORLD

160 X 70cm • OILS • 2015

This work depicts a fragmented, ruinous landscape with rudimentary remnants of civilizations from the distant past. Nature’s increasingly overgrown primeval forests reconquer the urban spaces over the memory of relic advanced cultures. Even the pyramids in their glimpse of everlasting time periods, are reduced to insignificant testimonies of former human hubris. Biblical plagues such as floods, rockfalls and earthquakes are addressed at the same time, in a paradisiacal jungle of converging worlds. The densely packed margins are close up in near vision, whilst the mid plain offers a broad view to the horizon, into a brightened distance. This panoramic view appears like a stage set, surprising the audience after the curtains open.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

FALLEN ANGEL

30 X 40cm • OILS • 2014

This image of a “Fallen Angel” depicting the winding clutches of the devil, was inspired by a statue made in 1877 by Ricardo Bellver, that is in Retiro Park, Madrid. In dark yet bright baroque manner, the artist has captured the despair and hopelessness of being outcast, fully dispelled by God. Despite the muscular, almost Michelangelo-esque physicality, his power and strength seem of little use. This approach does not comply with the common, ethereal and lucid perception of an angel. Instead, this “Fallen Angel” is first and foremost a prisoner of his own mental despair, which ties him not only psychologically but also physiologically.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt

NEFERTITI

30 X 40cm • OILS • 2014

The ancient Egyptian queen was one of the most beautiful women of antiquity. Accordingly, her name means “The beauty has come”. Her likeness, portrayed as a noble bust, served as the model for this dark style profile picture. Only the golden circlet, the expressive painted eye and the classically elegant contour of the forehead, nose and mouth are highlighted.

As a reduced representation, this abstract portrait enables associations with other icons of female beauty such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Catherine Deneuve. This portrait is not about individuality but über individualism.

 

Text: Prof. Dr. Volker Fischer, Master Curator, Art Historian and Critic Honorary Professor of the Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main / Frankfurt