Bringing reality to a hold
Life, and the way in which it is influenced by culture from the day we are born, is special. A child will experience that a house offers shelter and language clarity. And thus the process of socialisation continues, like a self-strengthening faith. But unlike with unconditional faith, questions arise from early on. The moment a child is able to ask questions, it is also able to consider options other than the ones it is offered. This is the moment that the dormant imagination awakens. The ongoing cycle of questioning and accepting continues amongst other things in science and – of course – art. Through questioning acceptance, reality is brought to a hold and revised. This can result in a completely different perception of reality, and sometimes imagination and actual reality collide. This creates the absurd.
In the work of Angelika Hasse, for example, the images of reality and the language which pertains to it appear to separate and form a new constellation. For instance, the words in Heute..(2020) float like islands. The text ‘Heute zwei Stühle auf den Kopf geschlagen’ is driven apart as if itself had been hit. The seemingly impulsive power in the text lets the words drift randomly, thus demonstrating the absurdity. This is quite different in Hoppla (2020), another text-based work on paper. The text itself is very short: ‘Hoppla jetzt komm ich’. Each word has its own cell and the four cells drift between other empty cells. It is a sentence which seems to be uttered impulsively, describing movement and a person which, however, are absent from the story. What remains is an outcry of four short words, afloat in space like a memory. In both works, the text does not change its meaning, but the image does.
This is different in: Muss es Kunst werden? (2020), another work on paper. Whether something is to become art, is a question which is intrinsically linked with being an artist. Every artist is confronted with concerns regarding the quality of the own work – after all, how can something not corresponding to one’s own standards become art? But who is the one to raise this question? The artist? Or is it the cultural scene surrounding him which defines what is and what is not art? Is the artist still master in using his/her faculties? In Muss es Kunst werden? an indescribable genius pronounces the words. He is in a dark space, framed by colourful cubes and triangles. These geometrical elements are not coloured randomly. They are chosen carefully for luminosity and power in contrast with the black space, the pale green genius gesticulating, his eye staring into the void. There may be a reason why the little green figure somewhat resembles the way children would draw: a face with limbs directly connected to it. It is its face that makes the little creature human, its limbs are for gesticulating, the rest of the body is not needed for asking the question. The question, drifting in this dark space with its colourful, softly glowing rim, becomes both internalized and tangible for the viewer.
Of course, not all of the work contains text, but even if there is none, language appears to be invisibly present. In the painting Wie neu (2019) the entire space is taken by the front of an old-fashioned television. The screen is turned off, with nothing to be seen, but anything can still happen. Despite its old-fashioned appearance, the television looks as if it was new. And in the end it stays like this, because it isn’t a television after all, but a painting; and so language interferes with the image, even if there is no text.
Most of Angelika Hasse’s work is rather small. Only recently she started working with larger dimensions. The small size has the advantage that the viewer can examine the scene at close distance. This makes the image intimate and reflective. This is also what the artist wants to show. For her it is not about the grand gesture, not even the big thought. It is about the combination of image and language which gently short-circuit with logic. It is therefore only natural that she resorts to her mother tongue, German. In doing so, she shows that the language one grows up with not only expresses a meaning. Communication is also in the sound, the context and situation in which language is used. Language triggers memory, just as an image does. In her paintings, Angelika Hasse always goes back to the most simple shapes, without frills, such that each colour and each line gets their own function. With her work she lets reality stand still, and the void between viewer and reality, the absurd, becomes visible. In her recent, bigger works, Angelika Hasse invites the viewer to enter the world she creates. The Yeti in Yeti 1 (2020) is nearly life-size, and also the house in Wunsch-Zuhause (2020) reaches the size of a real house, well, a doll’s house. The size renders the work more distant – one literally has to distance oneself to see all of it – and image and language get a different, absurd meaning. And as for the house, does it protect and does the language give clarity?
Bertus Pieters, 2021
Translation: Reinhold Becker
Recensie ‘Dreierlei’ chm Koome’s Blog:
Macht die Kunst…irgendeinen Sinn…? Und das Leben?
Angelika Hasse weet op subtiele wijze tekst en beeld te combineren tot een betekenisrijk, en daarmee zinvol geheel. Op het atelier staan dozen met tekstsnippers en plaatjes uit oude tijdschriften, die ze meenam uit haar geboorteplaats Neunkirchen in het Saarland naar Den Haag, sinds 1993 haar woonplaats. Is haar werk nostalgisch? Nee, maar er loopt wel een lijn naar haar afkomst, haar taal, haar familie en de vroege belevingswereld die zij met zich meedraagt. Opgeleid en werkzaam geweest in de grafische wereld, komt zij in haar vrije werk tot kleine maar fijne beelden, die getuigen van luciditeit en humor. Techniek en materiaal zijn uiteenlopend, van olieverf op paneel tot gouache en gomdrukken. Haar tentoonstelling ‘Wunderding’ is van 3 tot 30 november te zien in de galerie van Magasin Horaz, Molenstraat 19, Den Haag.
Diederik Gerlach, 2018