Jörg Siegele and his figures, „responsible“ for life
A sturdy color stela with fish, women, snakes and organic forms, reminiscent of embryos rises to the height of a man in the room, apparently representing beginning life..To its side stands another, whose glittering coat of lacquer paint with circle motifs, heads and movements points rather to midlife. Then, in yet other image fields, associations with microscopic photographs: with partially puzzling beings or organic material – all of this ritualized in the strict form of its stela-like ordering, as if the eternal secrets of life or of the power of life should be drawn together under the ban.
In the end, the sculptor Jörg Siegele knows of only one theme – that is „life“!
And he grasps this as far as it is at all possible within the bounds of his virtuous fantastic of figure discovery, wherein he excludes animal monsters like fairy tale dragons or other flying objects as little as, say, the frequently appearing rope-dancer, or also completely freely created exotic animals.
Thus he makes it possible, for example, for two „acrobats“ to dance atop one another simultaneously, while beside them fragile structures float like rather indefinable flying objects. Elsewhere there is gymnastics, swimming, someone hanging on a rope or bathing in the sun. Jörg Siegele’s single figure of never abides by the static; it is always in motion. In numerous works, one could think these beings or figures appear in a space made especially for them, surrounded by a kind of stage, within the defined bounds of which they act unruly.
But viewed closer, their real process of evolution reveals itself as a completely different one: they are tather often even indebted to their „frame“ for their existence.
Jörg Siegele did not create all of his creatures, though, from an abstract, formless material, but developed all of them first from findings, insüired especially by rather chance given features in each. For him, these findings are, above all, tin cans. From this otherwise everyday material hardly belonging to the realm of aestetic, he cuts out his fantasy creations in a sheer unbelievable multiplicity of forms. After Jörg Siegele, educated in sculpture, had initially created large sculptures primarily in metal casting, he „discovered“ a few years ago the tin from cans as the material that most accommodated his interests. As chance would have it, an old olive ois canister repeatedly as working material.
He originally cut individual shapes out of the comparatively pliant tinplate in order to get a freely contoured figure. The newer works tend to not eliminate the „context“ to the can any more, so that they no londer hide their profane origin, Rather, they try to transcend it in a certain way, as a simultaneous imaginary stage or illusion space, in which the fantastic life from Jörg Siegele’s imagination can unfold, as if it wree powerfully struggling against the original confines of the can.
As to the color composition of the objects, the given material is also often inspiring to him. Amidst the loud lacquer surfaces painted mostly with primary colors. Repeatedly appear relics picture motifs.
In the newer wall reliefs, a further component is addes, namily, the picture-puzzle-like color compsition, that – depending on the direction in which on appraaches the pbject – changes the color in a certain way, so that the object seems initially totally black, then totally blue, or – from yet another angle – yellow. Here the viewer herself is drawn is as „sculpto,“ for – depending on her own motion – the appearance of the object also changes and increases its narrative richness. Tin scrap advanced to the preferred medium for Jörg Siegele because it could serve him as both an image carrier and as a shapeable material for relief-like figures as well as a construction material for sculputes. His tools vary with the given thickness of the different tins and in respect to the hardness of the worked material, and extend from the cutting torch and the compass saw to nail clippers that have been alienated from their original purpose.
It is also true for his newest works that he creates them from purposefully collected food containers. As described, he leaves some parts of the color-printed can surfaces visible as part of the image in his works, but the tins are also partly reworked, among other things in that he „draws“ with the cutting torch on the metal and regularlyburns in its new form. If one takes this process in the coming into being of the art object as a symbolic act, then a certain magic quality of the everyday object comes to light that was neiter to be seen nor otherwise experienced before.
In certain respets, a comparable reaching out to industrial products, in artistic „secondary“ usage as objet trouvé or as image motif, is familiar from Pop Art as well as from the so-called Fluxus. Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jean Tinguely, or e.g. Edward Kienholz, Arman, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg shocked the public in the 60s by raising banal objects of everyday life into the sphere of ar. Thus, what was a quite normal soup can back then – namely, that of Campbell’s tomato soup – reached the high stature of art when painted by Andy Warhol in New York in 1965, and still enjoys the greatest popularity even today.
Downright native, magical powers seem to become effective when Jörg Siegele now creates his works. Such an impression is reconfirmed as soon as he arranges individual works into action groups, for he does not just set his gigures up, but changes the space itself with their help. Even if the figures, objects, paintings and sculptures also exists for themselves and can or could assert themselves individually, they form in the arrangement of an exhibit at the same time part of an installation.
If one wanders through such „art gardens“ by Jörg Siegele as an observer, one meets strange animal, human figures engaged in multifarious action or otherwise strange and familiar beings always at the same time. Mostly it is a question of made-up species, which nonetheless stand in relation to the human, and in fact especially to his or her fantasy or imagination. Supposedly, that functions for Jörg Siegele similarly to how it is known from the fantastical animal worlds of antiquity. Where fast beats of prey could still fly and the strong male still held his little one protectively by the hand – there moves the fantasy of Jörg Siegele, his personal philosophy uniting as well with the experienced as with the known or divined. From the perspective of art history, Siegele’s effortless combination of two otherwise all-too-often estranged art genres, sculpting and painting, is astounding.
His older works from the mid-80s, still completely concentrating on sculpture, enable one to recognize that his current themes were already laid out then: fabulous beings, animalistic figures and, always immediately distinguishable behind them, the oddest of all beings, the human. However, Siegele is quite far from taking the philosophizing away from the observer – quite the conrtary! When he himself laconically discloses that his work has to do with „only a light mood“, caution is advised! If possible, Jörg Siegele aboids wrapping his works in clarifying words. On the other hand, especially the human figures in his work possess a charm that one thinks one understands without much clarification. This results from Siegele’s ability to bring archetypal characteristics of human beings into forms whose meaning is no less understandable to even a child than to an adult.
Many of his fugures are readable as picture signs. Their testimony unfolds mostly via a motion that lapses at the same moment, and it is often the dance. In the design of such figural compositions, the static integrity is always of consequence ot the sculptor. This requires a balancing out of weights, achieved mostly through simple trial and error in union with a previously thought-through static rough draft. For Jörg Siegele dance also means joy for life and finally, in a word, simply life itself. Without being heavy on therory, he grasps intuitively the original meaning of dance, namely as an interpretation of rhythm through motion.
Familiar interpretations in music therory correspond to this, according to which the rhythm is seen as elementary for each kind of music, regardless of from which cultural circle: „In the beginning there was rhythm“ – and, Jörg Siegele could add: through it, also, the dance. His dancers could be seen in the succession of historical forms of the ballet, since so-called „entrements“, in accordance with ballet performances of medieval dance tradition, were in a similar way already independent of given dramaturgical themes and represented free interpretations of life situations. Even up until the time of Louis XIV and his „Ballet de nuit“, such dance performances were taken as occasions to reflect on the sciences os much as the liberal arts, as well as on nature, the motion af the stars and their course, according to which, in the end, „all beings dance“. From which Molière in „The Citizen as a Gentleman“ draws the opposite conclusion, by the way: that all a person’s unhappiness, all the heavy blows of fate and defeats only result from the fact that „one doesn’t know how to dance“ in the end.
This does not apply to Jörg Siegele’s creatures by any means. They dance, and dance for their lives. The fantasy of individual scenes id almost unbelievable: there, for example, it happens that a figure balanves an angular structure on its head, on top of which another with an extraordinarily fat belly dances. Or two other figures float freely in space, holding themselves fast to only an extremely fragile, abstract structure, which itself floats, producing on the whole a strange flying object that is only thinkable in fantasy. Here, dance stands for the characteristic of the transitory of motion. And motion – according to a fundamental human conception that has been around since ancient arial regular – is nothing else but life. Astonishment at the eternally valid. But how to talk about it?
Don’t talk! Rather, dance! Look! Dance! It concerns, so it seems, only the creation of a personal vision of that which could be „important“, and in fact – especiall, concerning the innermost – finally is only that. Jörg Siegele confesses to this, though, without wanting to express it himself in words. But his art betrays exactly this, in the split between the eternal and the eqhemeral, only momentarily valid. Executed with playful lightness, he thus confronts us with the archetypal. He does not necessarily „translate“ thereby the intention into our currently familiar vocabulary, but rather reactivates a picture language that is reminiscent of archaic signs, like the pictorial symbolism of Egyptian hieroglyphs, perhaps, or the picture-writing of the Aztecs and Mayas, who also combined similar fantastical representations of living beings and graphic concepts with free, hence, abstract idea-signs.
Siegele’s objectively interpreted scenes are not only to be formally ordered with such precursors, but also according to content. Isn’t there a hunting scene to be seen here – Or a fight there? A ritual dance, a mating scene, the symbol-carrying snake, a bird or the sun? Then again, there are unequivocal images, like the one with two figures standing oppsite one another, both with raised hands, one armed with a threateningly raised club. Jörg Siegele vitalizes such image signs that are reminiscent of archaic formulas into fantastic stories, whereby – like in the old picture-writings – a certain puzzlement is always preserved. The actions of Jörg Siegele’s actors protect themselves against a thorough, concrete transmutation into the word, which only a linearly progressing, logical development would allow, thus, he retains for his creatures their iridescent multiplicity.
And with them, idols are reawakened to a new life at the end of the 20th century in civilization-weary Europe, whose prehistoric roots perhaps point back even further into the history of humankind and could come from strange primitive races. As much as the proportions of the human in Jörg Siegele’s figures might bend, schematically reduce or even distort, they all want to investigate his being and divulge his interior however. If Jörg Siegele’s idols no longer want to be installed as it images as were their predecessors, they nonetheless possess the power to bring the elementary aspects of human life into consciousness anew. Thus, he makes even the observer into a witness of the certainly timelessly self-reproducing, continually newly beginning life, starting with the act of creation, along with embryonic beings, between fish and trees.
Jörg Siegele builds symbioses between found materials and the fantasized form. In this way he seduces us into the sphere of the mythical, cult, fairy-tale, and puzzling, where next to circus acrobats there are also ghosts, snakes, centaurs, wild animals and, finally, quite simply human, also. They are all in motion, I think, as the expression of their existence. Pinning the observer down to certain associations is pruposefully avoided. Jörg Siegele’s metier is rather the playful. He has created a free space for the fantasy, which many other believed all-too-easily lost in the face of the quotidian pressure of reality and restraints. At the same time, he holds a mirror up to the society in which he lives. And so it happens then: a large blue tiger grasps at the sun – and in the middle of dancing couples, a minotaur, a female rope-dancer or a horn blower, one suddenly finds oneself.