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Decouverte : Bernhard LEHNER – a form of symbolic disarmament

Classé dans : Allemagne (DE),Bernhard LEHNER (DE),recup' / recycled — bijoucontemporain @ 0:07

Bernhard LEHNER :

« I’ve always been interested in and fascinated by sticks and weapons, which are, so to say, the natural jewellery of small and big boys.
Maybe growing up in the rural Bavarian countryside is a root for this lasting obsession. Yet as an adult and artist, my aim is to transform this boyish/primitive jewellery in art and thereby real jewellery by deconstructing the original object.
I’ve bought Colts, Shotguns and even a Kalashnikov, sawn them in parts and made bracelets of them. It’s a form of symbolic disarmament by preserving the jewellery status. Somehow the destructive energy of the weapon lasts in positive form in my work.
I don’t see myself as an jewellery artist but as an artist whose work is to be seen (and worn) in close connection to the human body. To hell with art on walls. From the sticks to the jewellery to the furniture, it’s always art to be touched, held and worn (and be seen on somebody’s body.)
Modern artists all had their trade mark outfits: Beuys’ hat and vest, Warhol’s wig, Tom Wolfe’s white suits. But their work was something different – not the personal style, not the fashion. For me, my style, my jewellery, my sticks and my furniture is not separated from my art: It’s my art, and so these categories merge. » (Kath Libbert jewellery gallery)
Bernhard LEHNER-  Belt made from a colt revolver from the Spanish civil war, sawn in pieces

Bernhard Lehner -  Chain made from a colt revolver from the Spanish civil war, sawn in piecesBernhard LEHNER- ‘The Chain of Thought ‘ - Chain made from a colt revolver from the Spanish civil war, sawn in pieces

Bernhard Lehner - Necklace made from a sawn-up double barrel shotgun, steelBernhard LEHNER- Necklace made from a sawn-up double barrel shotgun, steel

The most obvious thing about Bernard Lehner’s work is perhaps the fact that it leaves all current categorisation by the wayside: in place of the Holy Grail of the disciplines of painting, photography, sculpture, video and performance, the distinctly ‘un-artistic’ medium of instead enters into his work.
Over the years a two-fold audience reaction has emerged: an immediate enthusiasm for the object, particularly for its immediate qualities is stronger that an unwillingless (and perhaps also an inability) to grasp the experience and to then to ‘ennoble’ it through reflection and theory.
Because Bernhard Lehner broadened the spectrum of his work in his younger years to include objects, including labels such as ‘jewellery’ and ‘furniture’, he has been able to describe and qualify his work since this youthful time as ‘Craft’. In this way he has ploughed his furrow: Not only genealogically does Lenhers work come from Stock, the Stock was already there and without decoding the element of Stick, one becomes overtaken by conceptualism.
Whenever one meets Bernhard Lehner, he has one of his sticks with him: metallic rods that he has embellished with lace underwear, with a barbie doll as the head; a shark’s spine as the stick’s spine; a decommissioned pistol could serve as the head or an artificial hip joint; materials are as likely to include valuable materials such as ebony as found objects from flea markets. The Stick, one can immediately ascertain, is Lehner’s Leitmotiv; but the stick is more than just a conspicuous accessory: It is not just jewellery, the costume of the artist promising his playful role, it is essential to him. The current costume of artists – Warhol’s silver wig, Beuys’ hat and waistcoat – were only signatures that merely served to …. Art: these referential functions did not confront them because the artist cannot travel into the social arena with his art: the Warhol prints, like the Beuys installations were despite contrary intentions not ultimately destined for the sacred rooms of the Art world – gallery and museum – as their natural environment. As soon as they were placed in a conventional context other than the street or the pub, the artists were no longer present in their art and so the accessories of the great artists always refer to their absent art.
One must ask oneself why Bernhard Lehner, who has cultivated relationships with art collectors such as Helmut Seiler or Tom Biber for over a decade, obstinately refuses to participate with artists such as Thomas Zipp, Markus Selg, Andreas Hofer, Markus Oehlen and Jonatha Meesd (they all possess a stick) in the contemporary renaissance of painting. There is a quick answer and a sophisticated answer to this: unlike the stick, painting in unwieldy. If one asks whether Lehner is obviously committed to not creating unwieldy work – Lehner’s body is known to be his primary exhibition space, that stands for the sticks, as much as the jewellery, and latterly for the somewhat unwieldy furniture, so one must stand back and take a look at art history of the last century: fundamentally, there is a paradigm shift from epistemological to social. Large parts of classic modernity possessed an epistemological impetus: cubism trained the eye to see the central perspective, abstraction led to a non-representational reality; futurism injected dynamism into the static image, surrealism entered into the realm of dreams.
The shift in emphasis from the epistemological to the social started from the middle of the 1960s: Warhol’s Factory was not just responsible for the mechanisation of the art production process, it was also an unpolitical collective of lunatics and volunteers. Martin Kippenberger’s late work  The Happy End of Franz kafka’s Americaexplored like none of his other work the role of the social and the position of the individual in the collective.
All of these explosions of the artist’s individuality in society inevitably failed due to their protagonists remained as revised role models: as the mythological ‘I’. The artist in modernity does not differentiate between Art and Life; both are inseperable. The artist creates not just work but also himself. Correspondingly, the social environment of the artist is always a patriarchal characteristic. The more people that are brought under the spell of God and take part in the production processes, the brighter the God shines. Kippenberger understood that this was the crux of the matter and he strove to deconstruct the image of the mythological ‘I’.
Our continuing fascination with Bernard lehner’s work could be rooted in our sense that we can now begin to see the path from Art back into Social: what lies behind the inspiration for a toy formula 1 racing car which, with its wheels removed, creates the form of a crucifix and wears a chain? Why does the artist wear a skull carved out of a block of Lego bricks? Now, these objects are not unwieldy. They allow themselves to be integrated into the everyday, without having a purely useful purpose. They spare us not only the path into the sacred rooms of the Art world, they also spare the artists the digital social life towards which the Art world is currently thundering: either, it is inside in the art world busines centres, in museums, or it is outside. In order to transcend this poor social world, this either-or, Bernhard Lehner has discovered his Stick. The Stick exists in a literal sense and with Lehner’s body. Art, now removed from the walls, is constantly to hand. The same stands for the ‘Jewellery’: a heavy necklace made from a sawn up tap is neither about form nor material; it is simply a new work that is being taken out this evening. The ‘furniture’ is a further step along the long path to the resocialisation of art. How does one dispose of original works in galleries and museums? One draws art into ones own life with tennis racquets that serve as towel rails, with chairs made of Langlauf skis, or coffee tables crafted from windsurf boards.  (Peter Renner – Kath Libbert jewellery gallery- « Matters of Life & Death » exhibition sept 2011)



EXPO ‘Matters of Life & Death’ – Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, Saltaire (UK) – 7 Juill.-25 Sept. 2011

Matters of Life and Death

An exhibition that explores the responses of nine international jewellery artists to the proliferation of natural disasters and man-made destruction in our world

Matters of Life and Death includes sculptural work, jewellery and film, curated in a way that makes religious, political, artistic and fashion statements asking questions about life and death, light and dark, sobriety and humour.
(Neckpiece by Agnes Larsson)

Visitors will not only be confronted by the striking jewellery they will be provoked into considering the following: How would it feel to have a wolf trap clasped around your wrist?


Sophie Hanagarth, this year’s winner of the Herbert Hofmann prize, the world’s most prestigious contemporary jewellery award, presents Trap, wrought iron bracelets that resemble wolf traps with sharp, articulated claws. Says Hanagarth, ‘They are jaws, dentures or mouths worn on the arm. They absorb us, eat us or suck us. By the mere act of putting on these bracelets, our hand is gobbled down, devoured, an extremity of the human body is captured.’ The pieces are brutally beautiful surprisingly sensual and extremely wearable!
Sophie Hanagarth – ‘Trap’ (teeth) bracelet in forged iron


Do you dare wear Carbon and Horsehair?
Agnes Larsson combines these unlikely yet elemental materials to create dramatic neckpieces. Carbon is a basic material existing in all living things but which we also consider to be dead, burned and charred whilst horsehair is a natural material that has connections to the body and life. Agnes says, ‘In my pieces I see opposites like alive and dead, darkness and light, surface and depth, fragility and strength.’
Agnes LarssonBack of ‘Carbo’ neckpiece in carbon and horsehair


Can severed swords become jewels to adorn the body?
Bernhard Lehner describes his jewellery as ‘symbolic disarmament’: weapons deconstructed – literally sawn apart – and then reformed as pieces of provacative jewellery, instruments of destruction recreated as desirable decoration for the body.
Bernhard LehnerBelt made from a colt revolver from the Spanish civil war, sawn in pieces



But Matters of Life and Death isn’t all about doom and gloom. If you’re worried that our exhibition is going to bring you down, we’ve also selected jewellers whose work is energetic, creative and joyful to lift the spirits including colourful post apocalyptic mosaic tree brooches by Samantha Queen and vibrant, creative avant garde work by Lina Peterson that injects a literal ray of sunshine.
Lina Peterson- ‘Greenish’ brooch in mixed media, silver and 18ct gold

Finally, humourous highlights courtesy of Akiko Kurihara whose playful punning pieces charm and engage, and Peter Vermandere with gargoyle inspired pearl pins enigmatically titled ‘emotions for the advanced’.
Akiko Kurihara- ‘Gem’ rings in silver and glass – (I put the glass beads on the position of the gemstone cuts)
Peter Vermandere- ‘Freestyle Atomics’ brooch made from parts of the Expo 1958 Atomium building in Brussels. Aluminium with garnet crystals on matrix 

Says curator Kath Libbert, ‘I wanted to curate an exhibition that reflects on destruction both natural and man-made, as this is a huge preoccupation in our world at the moment, but also an exhibition that explores the possibilities for regeneration, hope and humour. We’re also inviting visitors to be photographed wearing a piece that moves, excites, revolts…and to record their response on our ever growing Chain of Thought which will become an integral part of the exhibition. We hope you will feel compelled to make a visit, it’s a matter of life and death! ’

There will be a Collectors Event with keynote speakers to accompany the exhibition in September. For details please contact the gallery.
Angela O’Keefe. – ‘Ice Skating in the Dark’ Ring series salt crystals, resin, pigment, silver

Artists taking part in Matters of Life and Death are:

Sophie HanagarthAgnes LarssonBernhard LehnerPeter VermandereLina PetersonSamantha QueenAkiko Kurihara Gisbert StachAngela O’Keefe.



Tree necklace #1Tree necklace #2Tree necklace #3

Gisbert Stach – Tree necklace


Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery
Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford BD18 3LA.(UK)
Tel/Fax 01274 599790


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