The strange man is all that exists, treading the long and lonely road. But who is he? A magician who turns everything into nothing, no-one into someone, nothing into everything. Is he a philosophy? A history? A drama, or a novel? A religion? An art? Nobody knows. He doesn’t know either. All I know is that he’s done something right, despite the crushing weight of futility. He’s someone new, special, someone who doesn’t only disintegrate trees, evil beasts, giants and dwarves: above all, he disintegrates himself.
What is the psychology of savage abstraction? Abstraction, here, means exaltation and detachment. Psychology becomes distanced from the subject, and it takes on greater objective meaning. Matters of psychology are no longer a mere human ingredient, but rather an objective function of the physical artwork, of sculpture. Psychology moves from the specific to the general, from interpretation to the purely material. The pendulum swings between savageness and abstraction. They are not mutually exclusive. They become one. Detached psychology, inherent to abstraction, joins them by means of a magical connection. Even before the great outdoors gives these stone images a semblance of scenic obviousness, the connection must already have been there.
What is time? It never actually appears anywhere. Nobody even denies this. It simply does not appear; it is not taken into consideration. Today is like yesterday, like tomorrow and like today.
In its pure state, time is spellbound. In this state, savage sculpture emerges. Without any friction. Savage sculpture does not engage with time; time engages with it. It is not affected by the pace of historical process. It does not float in the river. It stays on the riverbank, motionless, watching on.
Stefan Rinck (Germany, 1973) returns to Galería Alegría to present his exhibition Abstracción bárbara en la casa de los excéntricos. Joined by his characteristic cohort of stone figures and inscrutable idols, the artist takes over our main exhibition space with a new collection of sculptures that show striking originality and a bold central conceit. This exhibition further bolsters Rinck’s position as a unique voice in contemporary international sculpture.
In this new show, Stefan Rinck explores the concept he calls “savage abstraction”, a term he uses to try and identify that hazy area where history, psychology, ritual, fantasy, magic, aesthetics and manual skill all converge, those different approaches which bring to the surface all the mutant offspring and wondrous beasts that we have sought to hide away in the corners of our collective subconscious. Rinck, like a kind of modern shaman, throws himself into savage and unbiased sculpture, one which is capable of summoning supernatural creatures. The German artist revisits, as such, a recurring theme in his work: the persistence of the monster and the divine beast in the contemporary mindset. This time, however, he does not limit himself to exploring the mere concrete form of the idol, but rather its capacity to act as an echo chamber for more abstract concepts.
As a result, the analytical forms of contemporary life are called into question, given the frustrating survival of all those impulses that progress itself seems unable to quash. From these impulses, Rinck extracts his own peculiar and carnivalesque theogony. Furthermore, the idol’s stony ruthlessness is joined, this time, by the contrasting nature of those “eccentrics”, who could in fact be any one of us, as the powerless, confounded spectators we are. The present relevance of this work, which is both acutely amusing and disturbing, lies in its reverential fear of the unknown and the sublime ridiculousness of what is overly human.
The sheer mastery and undeniable quality of the sculptural work in Savage Abstraction in the House of the Eccentrics reveals a pantheon of cruel, parodic and inquisitive presences. The multiplicity of materials, the skill with which they have been handled and the overall sculptural calibre invite the spectator to become lost within the considered composition of these pieces, in all their emphatic presence. The work as a whole, full of detail, takes us back to our childhood obsessions with myths, monsters and marvellous beasts. As a new slant on this, and alongside beings that reflect the artist’s own obsessions (crocodiles, skulls, gnomes and demons), we find new creatures defined by colder, more fearsome geometries. There is a certain chilling, mechanical quality to them, and there are also some more current and terrible gods… We witness new prophecies and new tensions: ultimately, these are new paths for such an extraordinary sculptor.
Stefan Rinck thus shows, in this new exhibition, that he can make stones talk, and he can bring to life those sardonic and sinister idols that we have long tried to forget, but which have managed to claw their way back to us, now in the form of his majestic sculptures. Therefore, it is a rare privilege for us that our gallery has become his “House of the Eccentrics”, hosting work of such savage and uncanny abstraction.
Ronda De La Via 7, 08903 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain