Manuela Leinhoß. Beautiful my desire
August 28 – October 23, 2010
Pfingstweidstrasse 23 / Welti-Furrer Areal, 8005 Zürich
Opening reception: Friday August 27, 5 – 9 pm
‘Beautiful my desire’, Manuela Leinhoß’s first exhibition with RaebervonStenglin, introduces the Berlin-based artist’s precisely honed practice to Zürich. Her sculptures use materiality to address what is non-physical, conveying such abstract entities as feelings and thoughts through forms that are quizzical and unnerving. Certainty is dislodged by Leinhoß’s process-based works, which articulate a gap between the perceptions of the senses and those of the mind, between the internal and external worlds which the self must learn to navigate.
Leinhoß’s titles are evocative and visionary, conjuring possibilities of great beauty and emotion. They are often gleaned from poetry — Sylvia Plath, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson and Theodore Roethke have supplied subjects — but not exclusively; some, such as ‘Entering into’ and ‘Like embers’, are made up. All are words as discovery, ideas that the artist has lived with and pared to their minimum, yet which open up vast mental terrains that their sculptures inhabit and express corporeally. Disjunctions between object and title create tension, making meaning provocative and ambiguous. In the sculpture the exhibition’s title comes from, Beautiful my desire (2010), for instance, two coalesced plaster orbs grow from high up on the wall. It is both bulging and flaccid, hopeful yet impotent.
Many of her artworks resemble man-made products yet recall bodily organs. They appear as singular things; objects that have been designed according to particular specifications, though for a purpose that is unclear. Their strong formal qualities —squished geometries, low-tech materials and handcrafted surfaces pocked with imperfections — deny them the polish of machine-made artefacts, leaving them to impress the viewer with the force of their aspiration and with a tactile beauty achieved through difference. Contradictions abound in Leinhoß’s art, expressing a vulnerability at odds with their inorganic structures: inexact materials such as papier-mâché, plaster, modelling clay and wood are made to describe sharp-edged shapes that nonetheless frequently recall internal organs or embarrassing protrusions; inner spaces are on display whilst front and back become indiscernible yet essential distinctions; oddities are submitted to an order that only makes them odder; and abstract, imprecise forms convey thoughts of indescribable nuance and subtlety.